By dismantling the Medicaid expansion program and eliminating essential health benefits, the Senate's Republican-backed health care bill — known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act — will reportedly threaten coverage for millions of Americans. While this legislation could be devastating for many, especially women and low-income families, there's one group that could be hurt more than most. A new report found that black women are most at risk under the BCRA now that many key aspects of Obamacare are on the chopping block.
As black women are the “biggest beneficiaries” of Obamacare — officially known as the Affordable Care Act — the GOP bill would put many low-income women and those with chronic health conditions at risk of losing health care coverage, according to The Washington Post.
"Black women have significantly benefited from the ACA’s prohibition against insurance companies denying coverage or raising rates based on pre-existing conditions,” the report from In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, published on Tuesday. The authors added that 80 percent of black women became insured under the ACA.
However, as Self reported earlier this year, because black women are disproportionately more likely to suffer from various chronic health conditions — like heart disease, stroke, breast and cervical cancer, diabetes, and premature birth — and the report notes that the BCRA threatens the quality of coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions, it's likely they'll be hit hardest.
Under the Senate bill, states can use a waiver to opt out of covering the essential health benefits package, which are services health insurance plans must cover under current law. And while the BCRA wouldn't allow states to use the waiver to deny someone insurance coverage if they have a preexisting medical condition, health analysts fear that the new legislation could still "weaken" services and plans offered, according to The Post.
According to the report, along with extensive cuts to Medicaid, one of the biggest threats to low-income black women's health are the GOP's plans to defund family planning services, like Planned Parenthood. As Vox explained it:
The provision would mean that if a woman has Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans, as her health insurance plan, she can’t go to Planned Parenthood and get those services covered because Planned Parenthood would no longer be able to be reimbursed.
"Without this option for reliable and accessible health care, many low-income women of color will have nowhere to get needed reproductive health care," the report concluded.
The BCRA could leave millions of American uninsured, as its provisions could possibly make premiums and out-of-pocket costs too high to afford. And without access to quality and affordable regular health care, the wellbeing of many — especially for black women — will undoubtedly suffer.