Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act on Thursday, sparking outrage from the Planned Parenthood chapter in the Southern Finger Lakes.
“This is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation,” Alicia Kenaley, vice president of development and public affairs, said in a statement. “By supporting this bill, Congressman Reed just voted to block thousands of his constituents in New York, and millions of people around the country, from essential health care.”
Saying the bill discriminates against women, Kenaley took special issue with certain parts of the AHCA. One was its removal of the community rating provision — meaning health insurance providers will now be able to vary prices within a “community” based on some of the policy purchaser’s characteristics. In contrast, the ACA required health insurers to charge everyone within a community — regardless of their medical history — the same price for a policy.
“Eliminating the community rating provision disproportionately affects women — insurers can claim having given birth, having had a C-section, or having been a survivor of domestic violence is a so-called pre-existing condition,” she said.
Kenaley also lamented that the bill allows states to select their own “essential health benefits” instead of federally imposing the 10 EHBs listed in the ACA. The policy change will result in approximately 13 million women losing access to maternity coverage, according to Kenaley.
The AHCA will also cut Medicaid by shifting funding for the program from an open-ended entitlement to a predetermined budget. States will receive the money as a lump sum with fewer federal requirements, and cuts are estimated to total $880 billion over 10 years, according to the New York Times.
“Reduced federal funds for state Medicaid programs will disproportionately harm women — women of color, in particular,” Kenaley said. “Approximately 20 percent of women of reproductive age rely on Medicaid to access no-cost, critical reproductive health care such as birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings and maternity care.”
However, Reed said in a statement that Medicaid as it is now — an open entitlement program — puts an unfair burden on New York.
“[The ACA] ties the hands of New York State government with regard to Medicaid reform,” his website states. “The cost of Medicaid is the single largest cost driver of New York State property taxes.”
The AHCA, he argued in a press release following the Thursday vote, will “provide much needed property tax relief.”
“The AHCA upholds protections for pre-existing conditions and the expansion of Medicaid, which help our most vulnerable populations,” Reed said.
But Kenaley suggested the Medicaid reduction will only “block access to care for the approximately 102,000 Medicaid recipients in New York that rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for essential health services.”
However, Reed sees the passage of the bill through the House as the first step to an improved American health care system.
“Today is a great victory for the American people. We are finally on the path to fixing our broke and broken healthcare system,” he said in a statement.
For Kenaley, Reed’s optimism is simply a sign of his disconnectedness from the needs of his constituents.
“Our supporters and patients will not go quietly as Congressman Reed and other out of touch D.C. politicians vote to take away their care,” she said.