Removing Health Care Access is an Act of Violence
by Lisa Stiller
Editor’s note: Many pro-lifers are celebrating the fact that a measure ending Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood is included in the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that was passed by the US House of Representatives on Thursday, May 4. Planned Parenthood does a huge number of abortions and is a major advocate for them, so noncooperation by removing taxpayer dollars has always had our support. We’ve written about the goal of taxpayer defunding, recently and a while ago. But one of our Board members asks: can it be done better, without being associated with a bill like the AHCA?
I have many concerns about the AHCA.
The bill in its original form would have taken health care access from approximately 14 million people by 2018 and from 24 million people by 2026, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. Votes were taken before new estimates for the updated legislation were done.
The revised legislation gained support from some of the “moderate” Republicans who thought the bill in its original form would have done too much damage to their constituents. Adding $8 billion to a pot to help people with pre-existing conditions pay those sky high premiums won them over. But the total of $23 billion is still a totally inadequate amount of money for the purpose, and past experience with “high-risk pools” is that they don’t have a good track record.
As an advocate for the Consistent Life Ethic, I believe in the dignity of all life, and that all life should be protected, from conception to natural death. I do not believe in acts of violence towards anyone. I believe that poverty, because its presence brings a much higher chance of a shortened life span and erodes the dignity of life, is really a form of violence, and a life issue.
People who lack access to affordable, quality health care have a much higher incidence of death as a result. Barriers to preventative care due to expense; poor diet, housing, and education; and lack of resources for low income people in many areas all contribute to higher rates of death among the poor, a disproportionate number of whom are minorities and women.
Even people not suffering poverty can have life-threatening conditions and die without decent health-care coverage. The very affluent late-night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel revealed recently how his son Billy, born April 21, 2017, had a heart condition that needed immediate expensive surgery. Kimmel acknowledged that although he could afford the care, he realized that most others would have greatly struggled. Kimmel ended his heart-felt story with a plea for health care funding, saying, “No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen.”
The Republican legislation also calls for about a 25% cut in Medicaid funding over the next ten years and cuts the subsidies to low and moderate income families which helped them to pay premiums. Instead, it ties subsidies to age, which might benefit some younger people but would send premiums skyrocketing for those who are older.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (08/12/2016), the Affordable Care Act reduced uninsured rates among the nation’s low income population by 11-12% between 2013 and 2015. About 20 million people gained access to health care, many as a result of Medicaid expansion.
Access to affordable health care addresses poverty, saves lives, and improves the quality of lives of tens of millions of people and every community. Removing health care access from 24 million people is an act of violence. It will result in higher unnecessary death rates, and it will contribute to more low-income Americans once again having to choose between health care, housing, food, and utilities.
Therefore, because of its impact on alleviating the effects of poverty, I am deeply concerned about the effect of the current legislation on low and moderate income Americans.
Furthermore, the present administration believes itself to be “pro-life.” Trump and most of the Republicans campaigning for Congress billed themselves as the people who would save millions of babies from abortion.
Yet the new health care bill allows states to eliminate the essential benefits protected by the ACA – including maternity care!
The Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s own research arm, claims that almost 75 percent of abortions occur because women feel they do not have the resources to care for a child. That would include prenatal care and care for the child after birth (medical, day care, housing, and job training/education expenses).
I believe that “pro-life” is much more than simply opposing abortion. The very reason to use the term “pro-life” instead of just “anti-abortion” is because it means supporting pregnant women and children and families, and advocating for those things that help families overcome poverty such as health care, child care, decent housing, and access to education. Being prolife continues after the child is born.
The current ACHA bill allows states to remove care for babies before they’re born, and cut access to care for families, including children. I do not believe that is pro-life.
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