Senate Republicans unleashed their revised health care plan on Wednesday, and it does not bode well for women. The Better Care Reconciliation Act, intended to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, looked similar to the House Republicans' narrowly approved American Health Care Act, with a few important provisions. A few of which seemed aimed at stripping certain minimum health care benefits, like maternity care, from women. While there is certainly no guarantee the new health care bill will pass, considering the cost of maternity care under the BCRA is important. Because the costs could prove life-altering for some.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and 12 other senators (all men, it should be noted) released the health care bill they had been working on behind closed doors on Wednesday. The details were shocking, particularly for women. Not only has an abortion provision been added that would effectively take federal tax cuts away from family planning centers that provide abortion services, the BCRA would also make accessing essential health care services much harder for women. Services like birth control and maternity care, to name a few. Considering the United States continues to have one of the highest maternity mortality rates for a developed country, slashing funds used to keep pregnant women and their babies well is barbaric to say the least.
The Congressional Budget Office released an in-depth analysis of the Senate's proposed health care bill and what it would mean for maternity costs (among other things). The CBO noted that only 18 states required their insurance providers to cover maternity costs by law. Which would mean many states could see their insurance providers apply for a waiver that would allow them to drop maternity costs as a minimum coverage. Women living in one of those states could end up paying $1,000 per month on top of what they already pay if they want maternity care coverage as a "rider." According to CNBC, the CBO estimated that:
Insurers would expect most purchasers to use the benefits and would therefore price that rider at close to the average cost of maternity coverage, which could be more than $1,000 per month.
Or, as the CBO's report noted, there could be another, no more palatable option:
Alternatively, insurers could offer a lower-cost rider providing less-than-comprehensive coverage — with, for example, a $2,000 limit.
The BCRA would also aim to slash funds for Medicaid, which covers the cost of a full half of all births across the country. Dr. Michelle Moniz, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan told Time:
These cuts are going to either mean coverage for fewer people or fewer services. And if those essential health benefits like maternity care and contraception aren’t protected, women and children could be in real danger of losing care.
Bringing a child into the world is already an expensive undertaking, even when maternity costs are covered. The BCRA is effectively tying women's hands behind their backs. Senator Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans don't seem to want women to have abortions, or birth control, or babies.
Do the math, guys.