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Bad Health Care Bill Penalizes Women: More Amendments Limiting Reproductive Health Care and Excessive Premium Rates for Older Women
Consideration of Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) proposed legislation to reform our broken health care system continues this week. Please send a message to your senators today urging them to oppose all restrictive amendments that would limit women's access to reproductive health care and to withdraw discriminatory provisions that would charge women (and men), aged 40 to 64, five times (!) the average premium amount charged to younger persons. Also, stress the need for the legislation to offer a strong public health insurance plan; Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) is set to soon offer an amendment that would establish a public health insurance plan.
The Senate Finance Committee is considering amendments this week to a bill that is the health insurance industry's dream legislation. NOW opposes this bill, primarily because it does not offer a public health insurance option and because there are many onerous and costly provisions. More than 500 amendments have been offered, including a number that would further restrict access to reproductive health services. Other parts of the bill would require unaffordable insurance plans, mandate coverage with penalties for persons without insurance, write age discrimination into law, require taxpayers to pay billions in subsidies to private health insurers and fail to include a public health insurance option -- something a majority of the public has said they want.
The amendments offered by opponents of women's reproductive health care include: restoration of abstinence-only education, adopting a conscience clause, no pre-emption of state laws regarding abortion, no federal funds for abortion and others. Abortion services is the one of the most common medical procedures provided in the U.S., yet these amendments attempt to further stigmatize and marginalize this component of basic women's health care. There may well be an effort to prohibit coverage of abortion services in all private health insurance plans.
Chairman Baucus and the insurance companies want persons aged 40 to 64 to pay an exorbitant amount for coverage -- arguing that it is this age group that needs more care and should pay more. Middle-age women might see themselves paying four or five times the amount a younger person is paying for coverage. The reason that insurers would like this enormous hike in premium amount is that they say they must recoup income to pay for their losses due to new prohibitions against dropping people for pre-existing conditions and for stopping higher charges for women because of maternity care. This 5:1 (other plans have 2:1) charge will result in unaffordable premiums for millions of boomers and billions of dollars that will have to be covered by taxpayers in the form of subsidies.
Add this gigantic subsidy to insurers along with the hundreds of billions in income from the 50 million formerly-uninsured new customers now mandated to buy private insurance and you're talking real money. It's clear that the insurance industry is calling the shots.
Send a message to your senators to oppose any further restrictions on women's reproductive health care, to withdraw a provision that would impose dramatically higher premium costs for middle-age women and men and to support a public health insurance plan.