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Planned Parenthood, Idaho Dems Aghast at Senate GOP AHCA

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- Ian Bott (center, wearing glasses), stands among other Medicaid recipients and advocates to urge Idaho's congressional delegation to rethink possible changes to how Medicaid funding is administered. -  - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Ian Bott (center, wearing glasses), stands among other Medicaid recipients and advocates to urge Idaho's congressional delegation to rethink possible changes to how Medicaid funding is administered.
The American Health Care Act will affect millions of Americans, but until Thursday June 22, the U.S. Senate GOP's proposal was shrouded in secrecy. Now public, the plan calls for drastic cuts to Medicaid funding, which would have drastic implications for women and children. The bill has left Planned Parenthood and Idaho lawmakers aghast.

"This bill is the worst bill for women in a generation," said Katie Rogers, communications manager for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. "If this is the Senate's idea of a 'bill with a heart,' then the women of America should have fear struck into theirs."

Should the bill become law, Medicaid funds reimbursing Planned Parenthood for services would be reduced by millions of dollars and contribute to closing clinics that provide health care to women across the Gem State.

It's a cascade of impacts, Rogers said, that would primarily affect the poor, people of color and people in rural areas—a consequence that has riled Idaho Democratic lawmakers. In a letter to U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) released before the announcement of AHCA, Idaho Democratic Sens. Michelle Stennett, Cherie Buckner-Webb and Maryanne Jordan and Democratic Reps. Mat Erpelding, Ilana Rubel and Elaine Smith criticized the secrecy surrounding the AHCA.

"Estimates show that repeal of the [Affordable Care Act] will put another 130,000 Idahoans at risk for losing health coverage," they wrote. "But we have no way of knowing, because the current proposal is being negotiated behind closed doors, with no public hearings or opportunity for amendments."

The impact on Idahoans may be much more complicated, depending on how AHCA could affect the health insurance market. According to the Urban Institute, there are 183,000 uninsured Idahoans already, and under the proposed plan, $38 million would be cut from low-income family subsidies for insurance plans on the Your Health Idaho marketplace, edging still more people out from under the insurance umbrella—a detail from a report this month from Close the Gap. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare determined more than 662,000 non-elderly adults in the Gem State with pre-existing conditions.

In an open letter released after the AHCA story broke, Sen. Jordan (D-Boise) independently released her own open letter underlining her concerns about the proposed ACA replacement bill, including its impact on rural communities, the poor and the elderly.

"The cruelty of this bill is shocking," she wrote.

To become law, the AHCA will have to clear a vote in the U.S. Senate, a U.S. House committee and the full House, before going to the desk of President Donald Trump for his signature.

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