Just days ago, a group of mostly male congressmen celebrated the House passage of the American Health Care Act, a bill that was passed overnight, without independent analysis, and without input from the countless constituents this legislation will affect.
Women have been left out the AHCA’s development since the beginning, and unsurprisingly, the result is legislation that would hurt us in Nevada and across the rest of the country. This bill would dramatically reduce women’s access to health care by making insurance unaffordable, forcing women to meet unrealistic expectations imposed by the government, and eliminating funding for vital health care services that help thousands of low-income women in my district.
The AHCA puts healthcare out of reach for women by weakening protections for pre-existing conditions. By allowing states to decide whether or not they’d waive protections, women will once again face discrimination based on their gender. If the bill passes, insurers could discriminate against women by claiming that pregnancy, breast cancer, or having had a C-section is a so-called pre-existing condition. For example, a woman who had breast cancer could be charged a premium surcharge of more than $28,000 per year for coverage, and a woman who was previously pregnant could face an additional surcharge of more than $17,000 per year for coverage.
Not only does the AHCA make it more expensive for women buying insurance, but it creates unrealistic expectations that mothers to have to meet by eliminating maternity coverage standards and allowing states the ability to revoke Medicaid from new mothers if they are unable to find work within 60 days of giving birth. For women who rely on Medicaid ― of which nearly 31,000 men and women in my district do ― this bill would leave struggling families and single mothers without any options and access to care because it would “defund” Planned Parenthood. Nearly 18,000 Nevadans rely on Planned Parenthood’s health services every year. From birth control services to STI screenings, cancer screenings, and more, women in Nevada have been able to get access to affordable preventative care that has not only helped save lives but lower health care costs in the long run.
The state of Nevada ranks 50th in the nation in the rate of women who have a dedicated health care provider and near the bottom in the rate of cervical cancer screenings. And overall, Nevada ranked 47th in the country for general status of women and children’s health. Those who voted for this disastrous legislation ignore the needs of women in this state, but it actually makes health care for women objectively worse - especially for new mothers.
Mothers and daughters across the country deserve to be seen, heard, and respected. This legislation begs us to question: Is charging pregnant women more for health insurance doing right by our mothers? Is gutting maternity care for 13 million women doing right by our mothers? Is forcing new mothers earning low-incomes back to work doing right by our mothers?
As a mother to a daughter who is in college, I often reflect on the progress that women have been able to make since my time in school. That’s why I find it unacceptable to allow a major setback like the AHCA from rolling back access to safe and affordable healthcare for women across the country. I refuse to let my daughter and anyone’s daughter go back to a time when being a woman was considered a pre-existing condition.
For those reasons and more, I’m proud to stand with Nevada hospitals, doctors, and constituents in my district who overwhelmingly oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act and “defunding” Planned Parenthood. I’ll be the first to admit that the ACA has its flaws and that it’s not perfect, but at the end of the day, the answer reforming our country’s healthcare system isn’t making it more expensive for everyday working families. We need to fix what isn’t working with the ACA by lowering costs - not making it harder by increasing costs for women and working families.