While even President Trump described the House Trumpcare bill as ‘mean,’ his colorful verdict is an uncommon understatement as it applies to the House and Senate bills’ treatment of women’s healthcare. Trumpcare is ‘cruel’ to women, and especially harsh to North Carolinians.
Trumpcare allows the elimination of women’s access to healthcare, letting insurance companies refuse to provide maternity care, slashing Medicaid payments (by $834 billion in the House bill/$772 billion in the Senate bill), and restricting Title X reimbursement. Medicaid is the nation’s public health insurance program for people with low incomes, the disabled and the elderly. The Medicaid program covers about 75 million Americans, or 1 in 5, including many with complex and costly needs for care. Seventy percent (70%) of the adults covered by Medicaid are women. Title X is a federal program which provides funding family planning services to people beyond Medicaid, like low-income women who are not Medicaid-eligible. Their recipients? Women.
The Senate Trumpcare bill will cut Medicaid by almost $1 trillion dollars (that’s trillion with a ‘t’). These policies have disproportionate and disastrous consequences for women – young, middle-aged, and elderly, alike – especially in North Carolina. More than half of all births in North Carolina are covered by Medicaid – 54% in North Carolina in 2014, while other states vary from 24% to 72%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Trumpcare allows insurance companies to refuse to cover maternity and newborn care as part of the 10 essential health benefits that insurance companies would no longer be required to cover.
Most people have heard that Trumpcare attacks Planned Parenthood, but many assume this has to do with federal funds going to abortion. It doesn’t. Planned Parenthood serves 1.5 million of Title X’s over 4 million patients each year. Contrary to popular misconception, no federal funding received by Planned Parenthood goes toward abortion, with the exception of cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger.
The attack on Planned Parenthood is a precision assault on low-income women’s health care. More than half of Planned Parenthood facilities are in rural or medically underserved areas – 54% of them, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. These areas are underserved either because they are too rural or because there is a shortage of health professionals. Women in these areas will be left without the preventive medical services they provide, including life-saving cancer screenings, HIV testing, and birth control.
The attack on Medicaid disproportionately harms elderly women, as well. As National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill pointed out at a press conference on 6/23/17, Trumpcare impacts not just low-income women and women of color, but also middle-income women who rely on Medicaid for nursing care, and women with disabilities. Medicaid covers three in five nursing home residents (60%). Seventy percent (70%) of people in nursing homes are elderly women. Eighty percent (80%) of women in nursing homes are covered by Medicaid.
The Senate Trumpcare bill is particularly damaging in North Carolina. According to a study from the Center for American Progress (CAP), 1.3 million people in North Carolina will lose healthcare coverage due to the Senate Trumpcare bill. CAP found this number to be more than double the national average – with no other state seeing a higher percentage of its population losing coverage than North Carolina. In most cases, around 50,500 people will lose coverage in each of the 435 congressional districts in the United States. In the Charlotte area alone, it is projected that approximately 250,000 people will lose healthcare coverage.
Another terrible consequence of slashing Medicaid is that Trumpcare will close hospitals, especially in rural areas, because there will not be enough paying customers without Medicaid as insurance. Hospitals are often large community employers, so many jobs will be eliminated. Since Medicaid allows so many elderly people to stay in nursing homes, many nursing homes will close, and those jobs will also be eliminated.
Both versions of this horrific bill would literally kill people, after drastically lowering quality of life for millions. The untold story is that most of these people are women.