Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives voted to roll back the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act, a major step backward in our already backward, profit-over-people system that ties health insurance to jobs and marriage.
The vote advances the interests of Republican donors, Big Insurance and Big Pharma instead of the people. Under the AHCA, pre-existing conditions are back and expanded, and many target women: breast cancer, pregnancy, c-sections, postpartum depression, sexual assault, and domestic violence are now reasons companies can refuse to offer affordable coverage, or any coverage at all. Medicaid funding is slashed, leaving lower income women without access to healthcare and the elderly and disabled increasingly vulnerable. Federal subsidies for Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of women's healthcare in the country, are gone. And should the ACA's premium subsidies continue to exist, they cannot be used to purchase insurance that provides abortion coverage.
Let's be clear, the AHCA isn't only a craven attempt to give a tax cut to the wealthy and pander to Big Insurance and Big Pharma. This bill specifically targets women by taking away our reproductive healthcare and burdening us with even more unpaid care-work than we already do.
Republicans know they're not helping people -- they actually had the gall to exempt themselves. Trumpcare isn't good enough for them, but they're forcing it on all of us.
This vote is an example of how reforms to a system based on private insurance providers, like the ACA was, leave us vulnerable to repeals and the whittling away of any gains.
Women had some steps forward under the Democrats' Affordable Care Act. It mandated coverage of maternity care and free birth control, prohibited the practice of charging women higher premiums, and banned discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. Families also got some relief by keeping their children on their insurance through age 26, and lower income women received better care for themselves and their children with an expansion of Medicaid.
We know this was not nearly enough, of course. Even with the ACA, premiums, deductibles and co-pays are still too expensive or altogether unaffordable. Most people are wholly dependent on a job or a spouse for their insurance. Insurance companies are still in charge, making a profit every time they deny coverage and sucking up resources that should go to care.
That's why National Women's Liberation demands a universal program like Medicare for All which would provide healthcare for everyone regardless of employment, marital status, health condition, age, or citizenship.
In January, a member of our group testified at rally for national healthcare in New York:
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December. I got surgery before Christmas, and I'm starting radiation therapy next month.
I'm self-employed, and my coverage is Obamacare. Without it, I won't be able to afford coverage, assuming any insurance company would even cover a cancer patient.
Here's how crazy our system is. Without Obamacare subsidies, insurance companies will refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions, like me.
Their bottom-line job is to make money for their shareholders, and that means they have to avoid sick people.
We need to go forward to Medicare for ALL, and not back to a situation that is unheard - of in most countries - where insurance companies pick healthy people to cover and exclude sick people from the care they need.
For the Inauguration, our group [called] on women to strike from all work, paid AND unpaid. We know what these Republicans have planned - they want to push even more of the care of the sick and frail onto the family (by which they mean WOMEN), and they absolutely REFUSE to provide PAID family and medical leave - they want us to do it for free!
Who does the extra care when insurance companies kick patients out of the hospital quicker and sicker? WOMEN! Who are they expecting to pick up the pieces when they cut eldercare programs? WOMEN! Who loses coverage and becomes dependent on marriage when that care work becomes a full-time job? WOMEN. Who do they expect to care for sick children when CHIP gets axed? WOMEN.
We say, no we won't, not anymore.
The Republicans haven't won yet. We must fight to make sure the Senate does not follow in the House's footsteps and make it loud and clear that women demand a universal healthcare system and will fight for it.