It’s no secret that Republicans aren’t thrilled with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). After threatening to repeal the legislation, a handful of Republican Congressmen have come up with their own alternative healthcare legislation, and it’s one that is not so favorable for pregnant or birthing women.
Senator Richard Burr (North Carolina), Senator Orrin Hatch (Utah), and Representative Fred Upton (Michigan) came together recently to unveil their new healthcare plan — Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment (CARE) — that they feel is the better alternative to the ACA. However, CARE will essentially take away most of the advances made in covering women’s health care, including maternity care.
CARE will no longer require mandatory maternity coverage. Currently under Obamacare, all healthcare plans must offer maternity benefits, but with CARE, companies can choose whether or not they offer them, which has the potential to leave many women without coverage for prenatal care or birthing costs. Considering that the U.S. has some of the costliest maternity care in the world, this could mean some women would end up paying upwards of $40,000 out of pocket if they ended up with a C-section and insurance that doesn’t cover it. It also means that many women might forgo essential and necessary prenatal care because their insurance may not cover it. That is not OK.
This is rather rich from a political party that is vocally anti-abortion and has also done a lot to restrict coverage of contraception. And in fact, CARE won’t mandate birth control coverage either (another pro to the ACA). So… they don’t want to help prevent unwanted pregnancies, because “all life is sacred,” yet they also don’t want to support those who get pregnant with affordable access to prenatal and maternity care. Sorry, ladies. No matter how you slice it, you just can’t win.
This country is already super clear about how it treats women, and in particular mothers. From the appalling lack of maternity leave in the U.S., to unequal wages, pregnancy discrimination in the workplace and more, it’s clear that women remain second class citizens in the eyes of the law. This so called “CARE” proposal only serves to reinforce that notion.
Not mandating maternity care coverage is an absolute slap in the face to both women and families. It sends the message that Republicans don’t care about families, women’s health or the outrageous real-life costs of health care in this country.