The health bill passed by the House, in particular its proposal to cap and cut Medicaid and end the program’s expansion, would have devastating consequences for the 766,400 women in Louisiana who rely on the program, according to a new report from the Washington, DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Women would bear an outsized share of the burden of these cuts because they not only make up 54 percent of Louisiana’s Medicaid beneficiaries, but are also the primary users of family planning and maternity benefits and are much more likely to use Medicaid’s long-term services. With the debate over health care shifting to the Senate, Senators William Cassidy and John Kennedy can prevent these harmful cuts and other changes from ultimately becoming law.

“Senator Cassidy and Senator Kennedy must protect Louisiana women – and all Louisianans — by rejecting any health bill that causes people to lose coverage, caps or cuts Medicaid or ends the Medicaid expansion, or takes away critical protections,” said Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project. “Failing to meet any of these standards would hurt Louisiana women and families.”

The House-passed bill, which President Trump supports, would slash more than $800 billion from Medicaid over ten years by effectively eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults and imposing a “per capita cap” on the program. The per capita cap would break the federal government’s decades-long guarantee to pay a fixed share of states’ Medicaid costs.

These cuts would put at risk the critical support Medicaid gives to women throughout their lives:

  • Medicaid provides health care for nearly half of all pregnant women, supporting them through their pregnancies and ensuring that their babies have a healthy start. In fact, Medicaid financed 69 percent of births in Louisiana in 2010.
  • Because women live longer than men, women are much more likely to use Medicaid’s long-term services and supports as they age. The program also plays an especially critical role for older women of color who are also enrolled in Medicare, covering nearly 40% of Latina and African American women over 65.
  • Eliminating the ACA’s Medicaid expansion would jeopardize coverage for 264,000 women in Louisiana who have gained coverage as a result of the expansion.
  • Nearly all women use some form of family planning during their reproductive years, and Medicaid finances 75 percent of all publicly-funded family planning services. The House-passed bill also specifically targets access to women’s health care services by barring states from reimbursing Planned Parenthood for its preventive health and family planning services for women and men enrolled in Medicaid.

“Medicaid plays a vital role in helping meet the unique health care needs of women, who are the primary users of family planning and maternity care and more likely to use long-term services. Under the House bill, many low-income women would struggle to afford the services they and their families need,” said Moller. “Our Senators need to protect Medicaid – not cut it.”

The House-passed bill also includes several provisions that are especially harmful to women with private insurance.  For example, it would allow states to opt out of the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits (EHB) standard, effectively allowing insurers to charge women much more than men by leaving many women without affordable access — or any access — to maternity coverage.  It also would give states the option of allowing insurers to charge far higher premiums to people who are pregnant, have had a c-section, or were treated for injuries resulting from domestic violence.

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