Reforming health care reform

megan.mullett

Women’s access to reproductive health care is currently under attack from both the left and the right.

President Obama has made health care reform a top priority,
which is welcome news to millions of un- or under-insured Americans.
Under the current system, women who purchase their own coverage already
pay more then men – sometimes up to 50% more.
As justification for the higher rates, insurers cite the fact that
women tend to use more heath care, especially during their childbearing
years. However, the rate disparity between women and men doesn’t
disappear in insurance plans which do not cover maternity care.
Healthcare reform holds the promise of more equitable pricing of
insurance for men and women.
 

 

Women
(both insured and uninsured) shouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief just
yet, however.  Women’s access to reproductive health care is currently
under attack from both the left and the right. Nineteen
House Democrats have said that they will not vote for healthcare
legislation unless it explicitly excludes abortion coverage
. The Republican leadership of the Senate Finance Committee is considering language in healthcare reform legislation that would eliminate coverage for abortion services. The exclusion of abortion services could result in women who currently have coverage losing that coverage, and prevent currently uninsured women from ever receiving coverage.
Health insurance is only as good as the services it covers, and having
health insurance that doesn’t cover the services you need is tantamount
to having no health insurance at all. 

 

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While healthcare reform is essential, reform at the expense of women’s health is too high a price to pay.  In
addition to expanding the number of people who have health insurance,
lawmakers should ensure that reform includes the healthcare services
Americans need. In the case of American women, that need is
comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including abortion coverage.
Comprehensive health care reform should be just that – comprehensive.

Analysis Politics

Reminder: Kasich Has Made Accessing Reproductive Health Care in Ohio More Difficult

Ally Boguhn

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich once again touted his record on reproductive health while speaking at a town hall event Monday, despite having made access to that care more difficult during his tenure as Ohio governor.

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich once again touted his record on reproductive health while speaking at a town hall event Monday, despite having made access to that care more difficult during his tenure as Ohio governor.

During an event at the Solvay-Geddes Community Youth Center in Solvay, New York, a woman in the audience asked Kasich why he had signed laws to defund Planned Parenthood in February when many rely on the provider for care.

“It’s a concern to a woman like myself who, when I was younger, I utilized Planned Parenthood for [gynecological] exams, for birth control pills, for a lot of things that as a young woman without insurance, it was an avenue for me to get female health care,” said the woman. “And it had absolutely nothing to do with abortion, you know, but they offer very good services to women who don’t have means to be able to … spend $30 a month on pills … So it is of concern to me when you talk about defunding programs like that.”

Kasich affirmed that he had acted to strip the organization of its funding, but justified the move by claiming money for women’s health was diverted to other care providers. “The money’s not going away. It’s just going to a another place. We’re not reducing one dime of funding for women’s health, because we think it’s critical,” said Kasich. “We’re not going to defund it. We’re just going to move the money someplace else,” he continued before touting his role in expanding Medicaid in the state.

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Though Kasich suggested that reproductive health funding in Ohio wouldn’t be affected by defunding Planned Parenthood because the funds would be diverted elsewhere, critics in Ohio and across the country say the community clinics and others receiving such money may not have capacity to take on the organization’s patients when the law goes into effect in May.

“If Planned Parenthood goes away as a provider, there will be a void of services in our community,” Kelli Arthur Hykes, the health policy director for the Columbus, Ohio health department, said in a statement when the measure was signed. “We don’t have the capacity to fill that void.”

The Republican presidential candidate made a nearly identical claim in March during a campaign stop in Wisconsin, where he suggested it was “absolutely unacceptable” for women to be unable to access reproductive health care. But as Rewire explained in fact-checking his claim, Kasich has used his “tenure as governor to relentlessly attack women’s health on multiple fronts”:

When Kasich signed a bill in February cutting $1.3 million in funding to Planned Parenthood, he did not cut funds for abortion care; those services are not covered by state money. Instead, he slashed funds for the organization’s sexually transmitted infection testing, mother and newborn care, and anti-domestic violence programs. As Rewire reported at the time, the cuts also targeted Planned Parenthood’s infant mortality program ….

In November, an Associated Press investigation discovered Kasich’s aides had played a critical role in drafting restrictive anti-abortion language, previously attributed solely to the state legislature, in Ohio’s 2013 budget requiring licensing regulations for clinics. This led to the closure of half of the state’s outpatient abortion clinics. The bill also contained provisions mandating ultrasounds for abortions, blocking funding for rape crisis centers that provide information about abortion, and “re-prioritiz[ing]” family planning funds away from Planned Parenthood to crisis pregnancy centers, which routinely lie to patients.

Since taking office in 2011, Kasich has signed at least 16 anti-choice measures, including a later abortion ban. He also endangered women’s health by appointing Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis to the state medical board in 2012.

News Politics

Donald Trump’s Health-Care Plan Would Increase Uninsured Rates

Ally Boguhn

About 17.6 million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act since the law's key provisions were implemented.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday released the details of his health-care plan, promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Trump’s seven-point plan pledges to ask Congress to repeal the ACA “[o]n day one of the Trump Administration,” and to work with members of Congress “to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country.”

His proposed reforms include changing laws in order to allow coverage to be sold across state lines, making tax-free contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs)—despite the fact that HSAs already exist and that contributions to them are tax free—providing state block grants for Medicaid, and removing “barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers that offer safe, reliable, and cheaper products.”

Health-care experts note that Trump’s plan would increase the amount of people without insurance in the United States.

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“These proposals, including repeal of the [Affordable Care Act], would lead to a significant increase in the number of people uninsured,” Larry Levitt, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The Hill in an email. “In that sense, this plan really isn’t a replacement for the ACA. But that makes sense, since the aims are very different—less spending, less regulation, and lower taxes.”

About 17.6 million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage through the ACA since the law’s key provisions were implemented, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The ACA passed through Congress without a single Republican vote in the House or Senate.

Trump’s plan comes after criticism from Republicans over remarks made during a February CNN town hall in which Trump said he supported the ACA’s individual mandate, which requires all Americans to have health insurance. When asked by host Anderson Cooper how he would protect those with pre-existing conditions should the mandate be repealed, Trump replied, “Well I like the mandate.”

He used his position on the matter to contrast himself with his GOP rivals. “So here’s where I’m a little bit different. I don’t want people dying on the streets,” Trump said.

The details from Trump’s plan now specify that the individual mandate should be repealed along with the rest of the ACA because no one “should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.” There is no mention in the plan of what the candidate would do to address the more than 60 million people with pre-existing conditions who would lose coverage should the ACA’s protections be eliminated.

Although details of Trump’s proposal to restructure Medicaid funding into a state block grant system are sparse, the policy is common among Republicans. Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) health plan includes the block grant provision. 

Edwin Park, vice president of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, has explained that converting Medicaid to block grants could lead states to drop millions from the program’s enrollment and “would likely let states drop certain benefits that people with disabilities or other special health problems need.”