Another day, another attempt to change the American healthcare system. After the GOP's failure to pass a healthcare plan last month, House Republicans and the White House are reportedly considering a new version of the American Health Care Act, with some big, concerning changes. The proposed GOP healthcare revision could hurt pregnant women, because of the ways in which it might target preexisting conditions.
According to The New York Times, the White House and the Freedom Caucus (aka the group of ultra-conservative House Republicans who threw a wrench in the bill-passing process last time) are in discussions about how to revive the AHCA. The new idea seems to be that states would be free to get rid of two big regulations from the Affordable Care Act — community ratings and Essential Health Benefits (EHBs). Community ratings mean, basically, that insurance plans have to charge the same premiums to everyone who is the same age. Essential Health Benefits, meanwhile, are those baseline types of care that insurance companies currently have to cover. Prenatal care is one of those EHBs.
The upshot? Even though denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions would still be technically illegal under this new plan, removing these two regulations would unofficially serve much the same function, allowing insurance companies to target those with preexisting conditions. Yes, that includes pregnant women.
Back before the Affordable Care Act, many insurance companies considered pregnancy a preexisting condition, and denied coverage to pregnant women on the individual market. If the new bill goes forward with the changes Republicans are currently considering, insurance companies wouldn't be able to completely refuse coverage to pregnant women. But, if the community rating provision was slashed, companies could charge pregnant women much higher rates. And if EHBs were no longer mandatory, some plans could stop offering coverage for prenatal services, meaning all of those costs would be out-of-pocket.
Obviously, all of this is worrisome for pregnant women (as well as cancer patients, those with mental health issues, and many others with what could be considered pre-existing conditions). So, what are the odds that this plan will move forward?
Although this plan would be more palatable to the Freedom Caucus, it would likely be less appealing to moderate Republicans, and there were already plenty of them who didn't like the first version of the GOP healthcare plan. These revisions will certainly be a tough sell. But that doesn't necessarily mean that some Republicans aren't going to try.
If that's the case, get ready to call your reps.