‘Trumpcare’ failure buys Planned Parenthood more time
April 5, 2017
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On March 24, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a photo of 30 white, middle-aged men considering a bill that would affect the future of healthcare in America, including women’s reproductive rights.
The photo, which was upsetting due to the lack of female representation, depicted members of the House Freedom Caucus — a congressional group of conservative Republicans within the GOP who vote together on bills and amendments — voting on The American Health Care Act (AHCA), the proposed Republican replacement policy for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The AHCA — or ‘Trumpcare’ — proposed to cut premium costs, increase health care options and eliminate the individual mandate penalties under the ACA, and yanks federal funding from family planning services that provide abortions, like the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The act included a provision that would prohibit states from using federal money allocated by the AHCA for family planning services, reproductive health and related medical care that provide abortions, according to the bill text.
As a woman who has relied on a variety of Planned Parenthood services, including cervical cancer screenings, birth control and wellness checkups over the past decade, I cannot understand why the Republican agenda is so fixated on dismantling an organization which claims to serve 2.5 million men and women annually.
Abortion services only constitute three percent of what Planned Parenthood provides patients, and yet defunding the organization has long been one of Trump’s major campaign promises. However what Trump fails to realize is that women’s health care is more than just policy.
Forty-one percent of Planned Parenthood services are devoted to sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, 10 percent to cancer screening and prevention, 12 percent to other women’s health services and 34 percent to contraception, according to a Planned Parenthood services report.
These statistics cannot begin to capture the stories of men and women, like myself, who have benefitted from a number of crucial services that we wouldn’t have been able to afford anywhere else.
Many people like myself expected the Freedom Caucus, which according to the Pew Research Center consists of the most conservative of House Republicans, to rule in favor of the bill, however, they denied it. The bill needed 215 votes to pass, with no more than 22 Republicans voting against it, according to the New York Times. Politico, a journalism company that reports political news, reported they were 25 votes short.
The original voting day was postponed from Thursday to Friday by House Republican leaders, due to a lack of majority approval, according to the Atlantic, a news organization that reports on politics, business, culture and technology.
Trump himself admitted in a Feb. 2016 CNN debate that Planned Parenthood helps millions of women with cancer screenings and other services, but in the same breath said he would defund it because he is pro-life.
In early March, the White House offered to continue funding the nonprofit if it agrees to stop providing abortions, according to the New York Times. Planned Parenthood, which receives $500 million a year in federal funding — none of which is used for abortion services — reportedly denied the proposal according to the New York Times.
For seven years, Republicans criticized ‘Obamacare’ for it’s high premiums and lack of healthcare options while “Repeal and Replace” has become the new mantra of Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who championed the bill.
While ‘Obamacare’s’ flaws begged for improvement, 20 million Americans gained insurance through the law, according to Fortune Magazine. A cost estimate report for the AHCA released by the Congressional Budget Office last month predicted that under the new law, 14 million people would become uninsured next year and 24 million by 2026.
However Republicans weren’t deterred by the AHCA’s denial to earmark women’s health services for cuts. On March 30, Senate Republicans led by Pence voted to overturn an Obama administration measure that will allow the individual states to prevent family planning centers that offer abortion services from receiving Title X grant money, according to the New York Times. Title X is a provision of the Public Health Service Act, which provides grants for family planning services, including contraception and disease screenings and treatments, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The March 30 vote was tied at 50-50 with all Democrats voting against, until Pence broke it in favor of Republicans, according to the New York Times. The bill will now go to the president for final approval.
While federal health care reform remains in flux, states are taking matters in their own hands. On March 17, Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino introduced Senate Bill 320, which would require student health insurance plans offered through the California State University, University of California and California Community College systems to cover abortions through state funds, according to the bill. Colleges within these systems with on-campus health centers would also be required to offer nonsurgical abortion methods.
While it remains to be seen how things will play out in our national health care laws, one thing is for certain; Trump and Pence drew a line in the sand on women’s health care and made it clear that our leaders do not have women’s best interests in mind.
Our current political administration represents women about as well as that photo of 25 men sitting around a table deciding what women can do with their bodies did.