Senate Republicans' plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would make it harder for Americans to access health care, and specifically make it harder for women to access crucial health benefits — from birth control to maternity coverage. This may come as no surprise, given that the bill was written by 13 men.
The Affordable Care Act made several changes to improve women's access to health care in the US. The law expanded contraceptive access, required (at long last) private small-group insurers to cover maternity care, and broadened the number of people who could access Medicaid — which pays for half of all births in this country.
These advances mattered to public health when you think about how poorly American women fare compared with women in other rich countries when it comes to several health outcomes. (We have some of the worst maternal health and mortality outcomes in the developed world, and life expectancy for women is going down.) They also gave women some relief from worrying about the cost of accessing very basic health services.
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Doctors and reproductive health advocates are saying the GOP's Senate health care billlooks like a big step backward. On Thursday, the bill was released to the public after a secretive deliberation process, and the Senate is expected to cast a vote on it next week. Here are the four key ways this bill could undermine the health of American women.