The Senate finally decided to release its bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which drastically harms women and families. As part of efforts to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy, many individuals will pay the price with their own health and economic well-being, including low-income women of color. BCRA will make it nearly impossible for many women to gain the coverage and care they need.
- BCRA ends the Medicaid program as we know it, a lifeline for many women of color. This is true for Shyronn, a woman living with HIV, who shared her story with NHeLP. She says, “Medicaid has allowed her entire family to stay healthy even when money is tight.”
Significant numbers of people of color of reproductive age — 31 percent of Black women, 27 percent of Latinas, and 19 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander women — are enrolled in Medicaid. BCRA decimates the financial structure of Medicaid by imposing arbitrary per capita caps on states. States will receive less federal funding for Medicaid and will be forced to cut coverage including critical reproductive health services. In addition, BCRA repeals Medicaid expansion, threatening the coverage gains of millions of women of color who would not otherwise be eligible for Medicaid and limits immigrant women’s access to Medicaid and marketplace coverage. If this bill becomes law, many women of color like Shyronn may be unable to get the coverage they and their families need to be healthy.
- Many low-income women, including women of color, will lose access to reproductive health services and their provider of choice. BCRA eliminates essential health benefits (EHBs) for those enrolled in Medicaid expansion efforts and some states may drop EHBs for their individual and small group markets. EHBs require provision of preventive services and maternity coverage so women may lose needed coverage or may have to pay more money to get the care they need. For instance, when the Congressional Budget Office found that in states that waive the essential health benefits, women could pay $1,000 a month more to get maternity coverage. At a time when Black women are facing high maternal mortality rates in the U.S., making maternity coverage unaffordable will only worsen this situation.
Additionally, for one year, BCRA blocks Medicaid enrollees from receiving Medicaid services from Planned Parenthood health centers, a provider they trust. These health centers not only provide critical reproductive health services but also serve as the onlysource of care for many individuals, including those who are low-income and people of color. Because these health centers are often located in rural and medically underserved communities, preventing access for Medicaid enrollees will mean longer travel times and distances to reach care, possibly longer wait times to get the care they need, and more barriers in accessing their contraceptive method of choice.
- Finally, BCRA will make it harder for low-income women of color to obtain abortion care.
BCRA prohibits individuals and small employers from using tax credits to purchase private market plans that provide abortion coverage. Many women of color are already denied abortion care because of where they live, how they are insured, and how much they earn. When a woman who is already struggling financially cannot receive the abortion care she needs, she is more likely to fall into poverty. BCRA not only makes abortion care more inaccessible but also unaffordable for women, threating their economic well-being.
With more than fifty percent of the country being women, you would think at least one woman would have been included in the committee tasked with drafting BCRA. Yet the bill shows how very little the Senate cares about the lives of women and their families. It is cruel and unfair that women who are already struggling will bear the damaging, real life ramifications of BCRA just so politicians can check this off of their to-do list. Call your senators today and urge them to vote against the BCRA.