Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - April 19, 2018 


A contentious Farm Bill heads to U.S. House for debate. Also on our rundown: gaps cited in protections for small-business employees and nonprofit volunteers; plus power out for much of Puerto Rico; and some warning signs, that increased youth activism may not correspond to voter turnout.

Daily Newscasts

Critics on GOP Health-Care Bill: What about Women?

Maryland's senators are voting now on the Republican health-care plan that will mean cuts to women's services. (Sierra Neely)
Maryland's senators are voting now on the Republican health-care plan that will mean cuts to women's services. (Sierra Neely)
June 26, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – After weeks of closed-door meetings, Senate Republicans released their legislation last week to repeal Obamacare. GOP leaders claim the plan will stabilize insurance markets, remove mandates and provide flexibility for states.

But Janele George, director of federal reproductive health with the National Women's Law Center, disagrees. She argues the plan drastically cuts Medicaid, defunds women's health centers and denies abortion coverage to those who get their insurance through the health exchanges, or who receive tax subsidies.

"By devastating the Medicaid program, taking away the ability of folks to access services at Planned Parenthood, making the essential health benefits optional, it would put affordable health care out of reach for many individuals and families," she says.

George adds that millions of Medicaid enrollees would not be able to access critical services, including birth control, cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases.

Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen calls the GOP plan "disgraceful;" Sen. Benjamin Cardin uses the word "shameful."

Adam Sanfield, the senior policy manager with the Guttmacher Institute, says family-planning services are critical for long-term health by helping women plan for children and avoid unintended pregnancies.

"We know that's important from a health point of view because pregnancy spacing helps to avoid pre-term and low-birthweight births," he says. "It helps people to prepare for their pregnancies, so that they can become healthy before they get pregnant and get chronic conditions under control."

George notes she's also concerned because the bill allows what is known as "13-32 waivers," under which states could make changes to the essential health benefits insurers now must cover.

"Including maternity services and preventive services," George adds. "Not only is this bill stripping that away for folks who are covered under Medicaid expansion, but under the 1332 waivers, we could see other folks have their health care impacted as well."

On the private insurance side, Sanfield adds there would be massive cuts to subsidies that make coverage affordable for some people who have to buy insurance on their own rather than through an employer.

"In ways that will make it a lot harder for particularly low-income people to be able to afford to buy that coverage, and then to be able to afford to use that coverage, because they'll have plans that include really high deductibles and really high co-payments," Sanfield laments.

Veronica Carter/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - MD