By Mary Clare Jalonick | AP March 102017
Women seeking abortions and some basic health services, including prenatal care, contraception and cancer screenings, would face restrictions and struggle to pay for some of that medical care under the House Republicans’ proposed bill.
The legislation, which would replace much of former President Barack Obama’s health law, was approved by two House committees on Thursday. Republicans are hoping to move quickly to pass it, despite unified opposition from Democrats, criticism from some conservatives who don’t think it goes far enough and several health groups who fear millions of Americans would lose coverage and benefits.
The bill would prohibit for a year any funding to Planned Parenthood, a major provider of women’s health services, restrict abortion access in covered plans on the health exchange and scale back Medicaid services used by many low-income women, among other changes.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee, said the legislation is a “slap in the face” to women. She said it would shift more decisions to insurance companies.
“You buy it thinking you will be covered, but there is no guarantee,” Murray said.
House Republican leaders said the bill, which is backed by President Donald Trump, will prevent higher premiums some have seen under the current law and give patients more control over their care.
“Lower costs, more choices not less, patients in control, universal access to care,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Thursday.
["Lower costs" meaning the cost of insurance, because the insurance would not cover as much. Meaning higher costs to patients.]
The bill would phase out the current law’s expanded Medicaid coverage for more low-income people that 31 states accepted, which is almost completely financed by federal funds. That could affect women’s health care services, including mammograms and prenatal care, for those who would lose that coverage. The legislation also repeals the requirement that state Medicaid plans must provide “essential health benefits” that are currently required, including pregnancy, maternity and newborn care for women.
The legislation will still require that private health plans fund the essential health benefits, but those insurers will have more leeway as to how much is covered.