Wednesday, March 22, 2017

GOPcare and Women

A reader asked how GOPcare will affect women.  It's a very good question, and it's not getting a lot of play, perhaps because GOPcare is so devastating to all involved that to single out women diminishes the scope of the potential disaster.

However, if your inclination is to suspect that women will get kicked harder in the nuts than men will by GOPcare, you are not off-base!  Let's look at a few ways in which this terrible proposed legislation is even more terrible if you happen to be a woman.

For this blog I'll be drawing from this short Time article and this short Cosmopolitan article.  For you sexists reading this article, yes, a magazine that gives you really uninteresting sex tips is a better source of information on health care policy than the television you watch.  Emphases added mine throughout.

First of all, let us never forget that women are paid less than men, period.  The specifics differ based on the occupational field in question, the level of education involved, and so forth.  Pinning down one rock-solid number for all of society is more or less impossible.  Here's a great webpage that lays many factors out clearly, and visually.  For now, to say that women on the whole earn around 76 cents to every dollar a man earns is not a crazy ballpark figure.

With that in mind, the substantial economic burdens that GOPcare places on every individual who decide they can't do without health insurance are that much worse for women, simply by dint of the fact that women have less money, period.

Further, Obamacare / the Affordable Care Act restricted insurers from charging women more than men for their individual health care plans.  You can kiss that restriction goodbye under GOPcare:

Obamacare helped women dramatically by removing an insurer’s ability to charge women more than men for policies, offering no co-pay birth control that allowed tens of thousands of women and teens to get IUDs, and adding annual exams, mammography, and depression screenings to preventative care. (Cosmopolitan)

Sounds to me like you should maybe just not get breast cancer for now.  And hey, stay happy!  Turn that frown upside down.

Naturally, GOPcare continues the GOP's berserk war on Planned Parenthood, an organization that most Americans approve of regardless of gender - although certainly it has taken such a sustained political beating over the past few decades that it is, today, on the ropes, public approval-wise.  

Despite the fact that none of the $500 million Planned Parenthood receives from the federal government each year can be used for abortion services, the GOP plan would strip the organization of Medicaid reimbursements, which account for 40% of Planned Parenthood's annual budget overall, and 75% of the federal funds Planned Parenthood receives. (Time)

So if you're counting on Planned Parenthood for anything - not just abortion services, but cancer screenings or prenatal services, for instance - you are going to be at least somewhat inconvenienced by GOPcare, or perhaps substantially hobbled in your ability to get quality medical care.

Funny though... as you might suspect, GOPcare doesn't go far enough for the pro-life crowd:

Yet anti-abortion leaders still argue that it isn’t enough. The conservative Family Research Council, responding to the new bill, praised it for its “pro-life” components but complained there was no mechanism in place to forbid a patient from using funds from a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for an abortion. FRC argues that because HSAs would hold the tax credits for the new plans, paying for an abortion with those funds are actually forcing taxpayers to pay for abortion, despite the fact that the rest of the earnings placed in an HSA would come from the account holder and are their own personal, private funds.  (Cosmopolitan)

As we all know, abortions are breezy, relaxing affairs and sometimes women just have them for fun, so, naturally, we taxpayers shouldn't be asked to pay for them.

In a charming touch, GOPcare makes life harder on victims of domestic abuse.  You know, those spoiled "snowflakes" who can't take a beating or too without whining about it. 

Under Obamacare, couples have to file taxes jointly to receive a tax credit—unless they are victims of domestic abuse, domestic violence, or spousal abandonment. The AHCA doesn't account for this and requires all couples to file jointly to receive a tax credit, without exception. (

Beyond these measures I can't find anything specifically in this egregiously cruel bill that singles out women, but (1) I could be wrong about that, and please bring any further details to my attention so I can post an update, and (2) gee, I think the above is enough, right?

Before I conclude, I want to circle back to the blog I linked to above regarding television coverage of health care news.  It's a great blog post and I urge you to read the entire thing.  It pertains to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, not GOPcare.  But the lessons to be learned stand. Here's the crux of what's said therein:

A recent study published by a team of researchers led by Sarah Gollust at the University of Minnesota may shed some light on this question. Gollust and her colleagues analyzed 1,569 local evening television news stories related to the ACA that were aired in the United States during the early months of when the health care reform was rolled out (between October 1, 2013, and April 19, 2014). They focused on analyzing local television news broadcasts because these continue to constitute the primary source of news for Americans, especially for those who are age 50 and higher. A Pew survey recently showed that 57% of all U.S. adults rely on television for their news, and among this group, local TV new (46%) is a more common source than cable news (31%) or network news (30%).

Gollust and colleagues found that 55% of the news stories either focused on the politics of the ACA such as political disagreements over its implementation (26.5%) or combined information regarding its politics with information on how it would affect healthcare insurance options (28.6%). Only 45% of the news stories focused exclusively on the healthcare insurance options provided by the law. The politics-focused news stories were also more likely to refer to the law as “Obamacare” whereas healthcare insurance focused news segments used the official name “Affordable Care Act” or “ACA”. Surprisingly, the expansion of Medicaid, which was one of the cornerstones of the ACA because it would increase the potential access to health insurance for millions of Americans, was often ignored. Only 7.4% of news stories mentioned Medicaid at all, and only 5% had a Medicaid focus.


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