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Women Could Be Caught in Crossfire of Senate Health Bill

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Friday, July 7, 2017   

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Senate bill that was expected to repeal Obamacare as early as next week remains in a holding pattern, while supporters of the legislation continue to look for ways to find consensus among their fellow senators.

One such amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz would allow insurers to sell plans that don't comply with current regulations about what must be covered - as long as they offer plans that do.

Ciara Zachary, policy analyst for the Health Advocacy Project at the N.C. Justice Center is concerned about the changes, which she says could affect women's health costs and coverage more than men's.

"An important thing with the ACA is that it really covers some essential health benefits and that women have been able to get care for the same costs as a man, and have these protections for their rights to get the health care that they need, when they need it," she explains.

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr has spoken out in support of the Senate bill, while Sen. Thom Tillis continues to review it.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has scored both the Senate and House versions of the bill and found women could pay as much as $1,000 a month for insurance that covers pregnancy and maternity care, on top of their premiums and other health-care costs.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicaid covers at least 25 million low-income women, and since 2013, the uninsured rate for women has fallen nationwide.

Zachary says coverage for all a woman's health needs isn't a luxury, but a necessity for her and those around her.

"This could prolong a woman's ability to be healthy, to continue working, contribute back to their state's economy," she says. "So, when we're kind of seeing this attack on women's health care and their ability to be strong members of their households and their communities, this bill is mean."

As it now stands, the legislation would cap federal dollars that states receive for Medicaid - a program that pays for half of births, about three-quarters of family planning, and provides supplemental coverage for nearly one in five senior women.



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