Health Care is a Woman’s Issue.

It is an accepted fact that women have different and more demanding health care needs, yet we have enormous disparities in how men and women are insured and how they receive medical treatment. There long has been a history of discriminatory practices by the insurance industry in the marketplace, such as charging women more or failing to cover conditions that primarily affect women or ones deemed women’s issues alone.

After decades of such unfairness, the federal government sought to reform the industry by making changes to the essential services offered by insurance providers.

While coverage in the United States is still an imperfect system and we can all agree there is room for significant improvement, the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) leveled the playing field considerably. Through the ACA, millions of more people, many with preexisting conditions, had access to health care. Some had treatment for the first time in decades.

The GOP wants to return to the unfairness of the past with the passage of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the replacement bill to Obamacare – a proposal so bad that not even the insurance companies like it. The legislation would roll back many of the protections offered by Obamacare and would take America back to the marketplace that existed before the reforms of the previous administration.

Under the Republican law, women would be punished for their gender by making pregnancy more expensive — as well as preventing it. First, the proposal defunds Planned Parenthood, eliminating the only form of health care in many poor and rural areas. This means that many low-income women will not have access to affordable birth control or essential health services, not to mention the devastating effects on the rest of the community who access treatment through these facilities.

Also at risk is the essential services guaranteed by the ACA which includes ten different categories of care such as coverage of prescription drugs, maternity care, mental health care, as well as preventive services like birth control. Many of these essential services are accessed by women more often than men, and the Republicans want to make sure that those protections are erased. These services could be eliminated under the BCRA.

In addition to higher premiums and increased costs of care, women can expect to pay as much as an additional $1,000 a month for insurance riders that cover maternity care and pregnancy. This is an unusually heavy burden as four in ten households with children are headed by a woman, and the trend is growing. With stagnating wages and pay inequality, it is a cost that women just cannot afford.

With this proposed bill, the GOP has weaponized health care coverage to attack women. If you support the agenda, and you vote Republican, you’re risking the health of millions of women. With your vote, you’re condemning women to suffer.

This is why I say that your vote in 2018 is critical to the future of all Americans. We simply must elect compassionate leaders who care about these important issues and want to provide equal access to health care to everyone, especially the poor and women.