A coalition of anti-choice groups held a press conference outside the Capitol today to announce the launch of a campaign pressuring Congress to include pulling Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood in any bill repealing the Affordable Care Act. They got good news when Senate Republicans finally released their secretive repeal plan, which would bar Planned Parenthood from Medicaid reimbursements for one year.
Not only would the bill cut off funds for low-income people going to Planned Parenthood for preventative care, it would, according to The New York Times, give “states the ability to drop many of the benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, like maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment.”
When news leaked that such a waiver provision would be included in the Senate bill, the Center for American Progress explained:
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurers are required to cover a comprehensive set of benefits, including maternity care, prescriptions drugs, and mental health and substance use disorder services. The House of Representatives’ health care bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), included a provision that would let states waive this EHB requirement so that insurers could provide less-comprehensive plans. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that under the AHCA, half of the U.S. population would live in states that waived EHBs.
Once a state waived EHBs, insurers would begin a race to the bottom to provide the most bare bones coverage. Those who provided more comprehensive coverage would attract less healthy customers and see their costs rise accordingly. To avoid this issue, insurers would jettison coverage of expensive treatments and try to cherry-pick only healthier customers. The CBO predicted, “Services or benefits likely to be excluded from the EHBs in some states include maternity care, mental health and substance abuse benefits, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and pediatric dental benefits.” The CBO’s prediction matches the reality of the pre-ACA insurance market, in which the vast majority of plans did not cover maternity care and a significant number of people did not have coverage for substance abuse or mental health services. Under the AHCA, people whose needs were not met by standard insurance would be forced either to buy coverage riders, which would expand the coverage provided by their policy for an added cost, or to find a more expensive plan that provided a broader range of benefits.
CAP estimated that under such a provision, “In a state that did not require maternity benefits, the premium for a maternity care rider would cost a woman an additional $17,320 in 2026.” The Century Foundation estimated that 13 million women could lose coverage of maternity services under this provision.
Will “pro-life” groups object to this provision that could cut women in many states off from affordable maternity care? We won’t hold our breath.