On Thursday, the Senate GOP finally unveiled its take on the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill is being treated as a more "moderate" version of the one passed by the U.S. House, but that's far from accurate. The secretly-crafted legislation is just as bad as what had came out of the lower chamber of Congress. If passed, Trumpcare would harm millions of people. In fact, this mom’s story shows why the health care bill hurts children.
Over at Marie Claire, author Jessica Valenti wrote about her daughter's birth and how, because of an illness, she had to deliver three months early via an emergency C-section. Valenti's baby weighed a little over 2 pounds and needed constant medical care to survive. That was in August 2010, a month before the Affordable Care Act provision banning lifetime limits on essential care had been enacted. As Valenti wrote, "it was just sheer luck" that her insurance coverage at the time didn't have a lifetime cap.
As Vox explained in May, a lifetime cap allows insurance companies to limit the amount of benefits a policy holder could receive. Pre-ACA, caps were often set at $1 or $2 million; go over that amount, and your benefits expire. For Valenti and other parents, a lifetime or annual cap could mean endangering their children's health.
The ACA provision banning annual and lifetime limits made it possible for millions of adults and children to receive essential care without nosediving into poverty. But the proposed House and Senate versions of Trumpcare would allow insurance carriers to reimpose these caps on some coverage, the Los Angeles Times reported. It's the GOP's attempt to lower premiums, which would only happen for some policy holders. According to a Congressional Budget Office's review, the House-version of Trumpcare would cause insurance premiums to rise for most of the population. (The CBO will release its evaluation of the Senate bill early next week, according to Business Insider.)
An analysis by the Center for American Progress found that Trumpcare would reimpose annual and lifetime caps on 20 to 27 million people enrolled in employer-sponsored plans. That means millions of workers would be at risk of financial, physical, and mental devastation if they find themselves battling chronic or serious health conditions that require expensive care.
A key passage from Valenti's Marie Claire essay highlights how the lifetime caps part of the proposed health care bill contradicts the GOP's own ideology:
Care for a premature baby can cost literally millions of dollars, and before the ACA, it wasn't uncommon for families with preemies to end up financially devastated. In the new bill, the text of which was just released today, that lifetime cap comes back. I've always wondered how it is that Republicans who call themselves pro-life could support financial ruin for parents who simply want to keep their babies alive.
The March of Dimes estimates one in nine babies are born premature in the United States. According to Time, medical care for a preterm baby could cost a family more than $2 million within the first year of the infant's life. If an insurer could once again impose lifetime limits, that would mean a parent who's delivered prematurely could lose coverage for their child in as little as 12 months. And that would mean that a child would suffer for the rest of their life, and face an early death.
As Valenti posited, how exactly is that pro-life?