Republicans finally deigned to share details of their much anticipated health care bill on Thursday, unveiling a plan that would — among other things — prevent Medicaid patients from accessing family planning and preventative health care at Planned Parenthood clinics for a year. As a result, experts say, 60 percent of Planned Parenthood’s 2.5 million patients would be blocked from going to the women’s health care provider for birth control, pap smears, breast exams, and testing for STIs. Planned Parenthood would also stand to lose nearly $500 million in federal reimbursements, a financial blow that would force the health care provider to close clinics across the country — particularly in poor and rural areas.
Using a legislative loophole known as the “reconciliation process,” Republicans would need only 50 votes to pass their new health care bill. That means that even if moderate Republicans who have opposed defunding Planned Parenthood vote against the bill, Republicans in the Senate should still be able to pass the law with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Perhaps the only hope could come from remaining Republican holdouts such as Ted Cruz of Texas, who say they don’t consider the bill to be conservative enough.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, defunding Planned Parenthood would strip 15 percent of low-income and rural women from access to any kind of family planning services whatsoever. The potential consequences of the bill for women and their unborn children can be seen in Texas, where maternal mortality rates have doubled after the state ended its funding to Planned Parenthood in 2011.
“If this is the Senate’s idea of a bill with heart, then the women of America should have fear struck in theirs,” said Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards on Thursday. “Slashing Medicaid and blocking millions of women from getting preventive care at Planned Parenthood is beyond heartless. One in five women in this country rely on Planned Parenthood for care. They will not stay silent as politicians vote to take away their care and their rights.”
Read the full story at The Huffington Post.