UPDATE: Sens. Graham and Cassidy announced that there will be no immediate floor vote on their bill, but continue making calls! In the weeks to come, we still need to educate our members of Congress about the harmful impact this type of legislation will have on women in Georgia.
The Health of Women and Families is on the Line
Women all across Georgia spoke out earlier this year against attempts by Congress to pass harmful health care legislation. We were successful, and Members of Congress listened to the concerns of the public.
Now, despite our past efforts, a new bill – the Graham-Cassidy bill – is being rushed toward a vote this week.
Senators are being asked to vote on the bill without full analysis from the Congressional Budget Office or complete understanding of how it would impact our coverage, premiums, state budgets, or our family budgets.
While all the facts aren’t in, here is what we do know. Like the previous bills that were stopped under public pressure, the Graham-Cassidy bill will cause real and direct harm to the health of women in Georgia.
First, the bill ends Medicaid as we know it, by capping federal contributions to the program and shifting costs to states. Medicaid is essential in ensuring that many Georgians, especially women, the elderly, children, and the disabled – have access to needed health care. Medicaid covers half of all births in Georgia, as well as prenatal care and family planning services for women in need.
Second, the bill allows states to stop requiring private insurers to cover essential health benefits, like maternity care. It is difficult to think of a more essential health benefit than maternity care, especially in a state like Georgia that already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates – and infant mortality rates – in the country.
Third, the bill eliminates the financial help 400,000 Georgians receive to help lower the costs of their health insurance. That funding reduction, combined with Medicaid cuts, will lead to fewer women overall being covered by private and public health insurance. Georgia already has one of the highest rates of uninsured women in the country. We know that women who are uninsured miss out on life-saving preventive care, like screenings for breast and cervical cancer. And when we cut preventative services, our state pays a higher cost in the long run.
Finally, women who do not lose their coverage under the bill could see their premiums increase significantly if they have pre-existing conditions, which can include pregnancy, having ever had a C-section, or breast cancer. Simply put, women will pay more and sometimes be priced out of coverage altogether…just for being women.
The question of how to reform our healthcare system is too important to be rushed, and our daughters, sisters, mothers, and families deserve better. Contact Senator Isakson and Perdue today to let them know how this legislation could impact you, your family and your neighbors.
-Sharmen Gowens, CEO
YWCA of Greater Atlanta