On Thursday, the House voted narrowly to pass a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, bringing the Republicans one step closer towards their goal of dramatically—and, many argue, catastrophically—reshaping the healthcare system in America.
The bill, which has been called "cruel" and "horrific," would threaten the coverage of over 24 million Americans, eviscerate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, decimate Medicaid expansions, and defund Planned Parenthood. It's now headed to the Senate, where "it awaits an uncertain fate," according to Politico.
Many of the provisions of the replacement healthcare bill threaten women's access to basic healthcare, with low-income women and women from marginalized populations particularly burdened. In addition to stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funding, the new healthcare bill would eliminate guaranteed coverage of essential health benefits like maternity and newborn care and mental health care, and allow insurance companies to charge patients higher premiums based on their medical history—which would be particularly harmful to women, as rape, domestic violence, and C-sections are all considered preexisting conditions.
Eleanor Smeal, the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, called the bill "cruel and deadly" in a statement. "If this bill is signed into law, the suffering will be widespread, needless, and cruel: hospitals will close… families will go bankrupt paying healthcare costs, and women will be charged more than men for coverage that doesn't even guarantee maternity care," she said.
Advocates from reproductive rights groups decried the legislation as part of a larger, politically-motivated attack on reproductive health, noting that Trump also signed an executive order today that would allow employers to deny contraception coverage to their employees under the guise of religious freedom. "I am terrified for my patients and for the health of this country," said Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, an advocacy fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health. "As a physician, I know that patients and families suffer when they are unable to obtain comprehensive, compassionate health care. Congress should be ashamed to pass legislation that puts health care out of reach for millions of Americans."
Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, cited the House vote as a particularly egregious example of the GOP's "commitment to punishing and burdening women." "When they undermine and take away the healthcare we need as women, they're clearly saying that women and our ability to plan and care for our families are not their priority," she said in a statement. "Giving money to their rich friends is."
According to accounts from reporters in D.C., it seems that Republicans will celebrate the passage of the bill by drinking cartloads of beer.