National Partnership for Women & Families


Debra L. Ness, President

From the desk of ... Debra L. Ness

This International Women’s Day, We Must #PressforProgress on Women’s Health

Co-author(s): Katie Martin
March 8, 2018 | Health Care

It’s International Women’s Day, and the National Partnership joined with U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and our allies at Protect Our Care, the Black Women’s Health Imperative and Planned Parenthood Federation of America to demand an end to the Trump administration’s attacks on women’s health and health care.

“Over and over again, President Trump and Vice President Pence have made clear they intend to interfere every way they can with a woman’s freedom to make health care decisions that are right for her,” said Senator Murray. “People won’t stop resisting. Women who speak up for their rights are not going away. … We will continue to reject – loud and clear – the partisan, ideological Trump-Pence agenda that hurts women and families.”

The attacks include advancing policies that let insurance companies charge more for “pre-existing conditions” like pregnancy – or just being a woman. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prevents insurers from denying, dropping or charging more because of a pre-existing condition like cancer, or even having a C-section. It also bans insurers from charging women higher rates than men (before the ACA, 92 percent of plans charged women up to 1.5 times as much as they charged men). But the Trump administration’s recent proposed “short-term” plan rule would allow insurance companies to sell more policies that skirt these protections, ultimately punishing women and all people with pre-existing conditions and destabilizing the health insurance marketplace. It’s just the latest in the administration’s ongoing attempt to sabotage the ACA.

At the same time, leaders in Congress and the administration are threatening cuts to Medicaid, which would put women’s jobs, health and even lives at risk. The Trump administration’s FY2019 budget proposal would slash Medicaid funding by more than $1 trillion over the next decade. These cuts would jeopardize the care of the nearly 13 million women of reproductive age who rely on Medicaid, including 31 percent of African American women and 27 percent of Hispanic women in that age group.

And the administration is allowing states to force Medicaid recipients – including new mothers – to choose between working or losing their coverage. Almost two-thirds of those who would lose Medicaid coverage as a result of work requirements are women, and women of color, especially, would be affected. This is, in part, because women are more likely to be caregivers for sick or frail family members and children.

In addition, the Trump administration is taking actions that will make maternity care more expensive, deny essential health benefits to those with health insurance and take away contraceptive coverage, forcing women to pay more for birth control.

“Essential health benefits under the ACA are critical, particularly for Black women. Administrative proposals for health plans to be exempt from covering essential health benefits will force women to pay nearly $20,000 to give birth,” said Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. “Republican attacks on the ACA have a life-threatening impact.”

These attacks are as unpopular as they are relentless, and they threaten the health, well-being and economic security of tens of millions of women and families. You can help fight back: Call your members of Congress and urge them to prioritize our health and health care, instead of a partisan political agenda. We all need to speak up now – and #pressforprogress on protecting our health care – before it’s too late!


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