Menendez: It’s Mother’s Day & Mom Deserves Healthcare, Too

Menendez: It’s Mother’s Day & Mom Deserves Healthcare, Too

House GOP bill to repeal ACA disproportionately impacts women, eliminates guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions like pregnancy, will cause millions to lose insurance

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Ahead of Mother’s Day, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, today visited a local women’s health center in Jersey City to highlight the disproportionate impact of the recently-passed House Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on women and essential women’s health benefits.

 “Quality, affordable healthcare for all women and moms is under assault by Republicans in Washington.  The legislation that passed the GOP-led House guts critical protections and jeopardizes the health and well-being of millions of women and their families,” said Sen. Menendez.  “They say good health is the greatest gift, so this Mother’s Day, let’s make sure we give our mothers, grandmothers, wives and daughters the healthcare they deserve and protect a law that has made a difference in the lives of countless women across America.”

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The senator held a roundtable discussion at the Women’s Center at Grove Street, a new health center affiliated with Jersey City Medical Center and RWJ-Barnabas Health that offers a full range of specialized care, from routine exams to advanced imaging and holistic services.  Several local women who stand to lose coverage under the Republican ACA repeal legislation shared their personal stories. 

 The ACA delivered quality coverage to 9.5 million previously uninsured women, including hundreds of thousands in New Jersey who were able to secure coverage through Medicaid expansion or buy discounted private plans on the state marketplace in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Health of Human Services (HHS).  Additionally, insurance companies can no longer charge women higher premiums than men or deny care for pre-existing conditions like pregnancy, and essential benefits like maternity and newborn care, mental health treatment, and hospital stays are now guaranteed for 55 million women, including some two million in New Jersey.

 The American Health Care Act (AHCA), passed exclusively by House Republicans, eliminates guaranteed coverage for essential women’s health benefits like maternity and newborn care; birth control; mammograms; preventative cancer and osteoporosis screenings; and mental health and substance abuse treatment.  Moms would also lose guaranteed pediatric, vision and dental coverage for their kids.

 By considering pregnancy a preexisting condition, the AHCA imposes a “pregnancy tax” on any woman who had ever had a child, charging moms an average $17,060 more over the course of the pregnancy, according to the Center for American Progress.

 Sen. Menendez’s Mother’s Day message calling for protecting essential health benefits and coverage for women and moms provided by the Affordable Care Act

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More than one in every six New Jersey women are on Medicaid, and the majority of all non-elderly New Jersey adults on Medicaid are women, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP).  AHCA would set permanent structural changes to Medicaid that cuts funding to New Jersey by 20 percent—the largest reduction in the nation—putting health care for up to 1.8 million New Jersey seniors, people with disabilities and children at grave risk. 

 

The AHCA eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood, whose centers nationwide provided, in 2014, more than four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, more than 360,000 breast exams, more than 270,000 Pap tests, and birth control for two million people; 75% of Planned Parenthood patients live below the poverty line, 23% are Latino, 15% black.

 

"Repealing major provisions of the ACA, in conjunction with significantly restricting Medicaid and blocking Planned Parenthood from participating as providers would have devastating consequences for the low-income individuals who have benefited from expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act," said Deborah Polacek, director of program services for the New Jersey Family Planning League.

 

“Sexual assault is devastating. The Centers for Disease Control estimates the lifetime cost of rape is $122,461 per survivor, which equals a population-based economic burden of nearly $3.1 trillion over survivors’ lifetimes.  This estimate included $1.2 trillion (39%) in medical costs,” said Patricia Teffenhart, the executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “In 2016, New Jersey’s rape crisis centers provided counseling services to over 10,000 individuals. Those individuals need access to physical and mental health care to mitigate the long-term impact of trauma.”

 

The AHCA explicitly bans all Marketplace plans from including coverage for abortion and prohibits the use of federal tax credits to purchase any plan that covers abortion outside the Marketplace.  It would ban the use of federal tax credits for small employers if the plans they offer employees cover abortion outside of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life.  It would also bar the use of tax credits for COBRA policies that included abortion coverage

 

Under the AHCA, up to 3.3 million New Jerseyans with preexisting conditions would no longer be guaranteed affordable health insurance, and up to 3.6 million New Jerseyans could face annual or lifetime caps on coverage.  Approximately 250,000 New Jerseyans who purchase insurance through the Marketplace would see an average increase in out-of-pocket health care costs of $2,740 a year, making insurance unaffordable for many of them, according to NJPP.

 

“Home care and hospice agencies provide vital services to hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyan’s where they want to remain – at home,” said Chrissy Buteas, president and CEO, Home Care & Hospice Association of N.J.  “Because home and community based services are not mandatory benefits, but nursing home care is, states may opt to remove HCBS as a benefit in an attempt to save money.  Any cuts to America’s programs that support our most frail and medically complex patients will have severe impacts on the patients’ home care and hospice agencies serve and the countless healthcare practitioners that care for patients’ needs.”

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Sen. Menendez has been meeting in recent weeks with New Jerseyans who stand to lose their healthcare coverage under the GOP repeal bill.  He visited Hackensack University Medical Center last Friday to hear from patients with preexisting conditions and their families.  In March, the senator discussed the impact of Medicaid cuts with constituents and advocates at the Southern Jersey Family Medical Center (SJFMC), a federally qualified health center in Burlington City.

 

After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced this week the creation of a 13-member, all-male panel of Republican senators to begin work on drafting health care legislation, Sen. Menendez joined all 48 Senate Democrats in urging Senate Republican Leaders to drop current repeal efforts and work in a bipartisan way.  He also recently penned an op-ed in the Newark Star-Ledger calling on Republicans to abandon this partisan assault on the Affordable Care Act and work with Democrats to make improvements to the law.

 

A far-reaching group of health care organizations have vocally opposed the House GOP legislation, including the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, Children’s Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, AARP, Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, Catholic Health Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association, March of Dimes, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, American College of Physicians, and America’s Essential Hospitals.