On our podcast this week, LOLGOP and I discussed this topic but, in light of recent developments, it bears more discussion.
First, we got news from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) scoring of the Republican “healthcare” plan – the American Health Care Act (AHCA) [note the missing word: “affordable”] – that, if it is passed and the Affordable Care Act is repealed, it will create thousands of unwanted pregnancies. This would happen because Republicans would end the ability of patients to use Medicaid funds to obtain healthcare services including birth control at Planned Parenthood clinics. This would potentially mean as many as 630,000 patients could lose access to care. Keep in mind that, in 21% of the counties where Planned Parenthood has clinics, they are the ONLY provider for these essential services including birth control.
In the meantime, Lee Fang at the Center for Media and Democracy revealed that the Republicans so-called “three prong” approach to eliminating the Affordable Care Act also includes eliminating the Essential Benefits Package:
In a conference call with GOP allies on Thursday, however, House Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers outlined the party’s “three-phase approach” to repealing the Affordable Care Act and suggested that the Essential Benefits Package, a provision of the law with sweeping consumer protections, could soon be on the chopping block. The benefits package, a core provision of the ACA, requires qualifying health insurance plans to cover a set of medical treatments, including pregnancy-related medical care. […]
The Republican legislation currently under consideration in Congress, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), is only the first phase, she said. She explained that it might appear narrow in scope only because the legislation was crafted in order to meet rules set by reconciliation, a parliamentary procedure that allows a filibuster-proof 51 vote threshold for passage in the Senate.
“Phase 2 is the administrative action,” she said. That means unwinding regulations that could not be addressed in the current, reconciliation-based legislation.
“Obamacare gave the Secretary of Health and Human Services 1,442 instances of discretion to administer health care,” McMorris Rodgers said. “For example, the Essential Benefits Package is within the Secretary of Health and Human Services.” The Essential Benefits Package requires health plans to cover 10 core areas of medical care, including hospitalization, pregnancy and newborn care, prescription drugs, mental health, lab work, and preventive services.
Today we have confirmation that the Republicans are, indeed, targeting the Essential Benefits Package. In fact, because its elimination is a key part of getting the über-conservative “Freedom Caucus” of nearly three dozen Republicans on board, they are working diligently to eliminate the Essential Benefits Package as part of “Phase 1” (or “Prong 1”, if you will):
The captors in this instance are the members of the House Freedom Caucus, the group of roughly three dozen conservative hard-liners who have tried to bend the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act toward the right and have now coalesced around one major demand — that the American Health Care Act, as the GOP bill is titled, must repeal more of the ACA’s insurance mandates to truly lower premiums.
That is not a particularly controversial stance among Republicans. Almost all GOP members — conservatives, moderates and otherwise — would like to undo more off the ACA’s “essential health benefits,” a litany of services that insurance plans are required to cover by law. They include things such as emergency-room visits and hospital stays, but they also include mental health, maternity, preventive care and prescription drug coverage that not all people will necessarily utilize.
So, they want to pass a bill that will result in thousands more unwanted pregnancies while simultaneously reducing access to healthcare services for tens of thousands of pregnant mothers and to newborns.
As LOLGOP said during the podcast, it seems like Paul Ryan’s goal here is to create MORE Americans to uninsure.
The hypocrisy is astonishing. And let us never pretend that these Republican zealots are “pro life”. They are Puritanical forced-birthers who want to institutionalize the idea that women should not have the same sexual freedoms as men do while tossing in a little “your life is precious right up until the moment you’re born” hypocrisy, for good measure.