We have reached a critical point for the future of American health care and the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On June 25th, Trump’s Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Republican-led states are submitting their briefs in support of California v. Texas, the lawsuit seeking to strike down the ACA. If President Trump and Republicans have their way, 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be stripped of their protections, and costs will go up for millions. The consequences of the lawsuit for America’s health care are particularly devastating at a time the country is gripped by the coronavirus crisis which threatens the health and safety of the entire nation.
No action would be more damaging to Americans’ health and safety than if the Trump administration achieves their desired goal of overturning the ACA in its entirety during this crisis. When the court hears this case, there will likely be no vaccine and no viable treatment for the virus. When millions of Americans have already lost health insurance due to the pandemic, it’s absurd that President Trump is arguing in court that 20 million more Americans should lose their health care. And when millions of Americans who contract the coronavirus join the 135 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, President Trump will also be arguing in court to allow insurance companies to deny them coverage or charge them more. The submission of these briefs from Republican states will put the Trump administration’s politically-motivated lawsuit on full display for the American people in front of the highest court.
Days of Action: Day 2 of 12 focuses on health care protections for women. To learn more about our Days of Action, visit our website.
What’s At Stake: Protections for Women
Health care coverage for women is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic. Women are on the front lines of responding to the crisis as health care workers and other essential jobs and are therefore more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus. At the same time, the economic impacts of the pandemic have disproportionately impacted women, who have seen greater job loss overall–likely resulting in loss of health care coverage as well.
New York Times: 52 Percent Of All Essential Workers Are Women. “Women make up nearly nine out of 10 nurses and nursing assistants, most respiratory therapists, a majority of pharmacists and an overwhelming majority of pharmacy aides and technicians. More than two-thirds of the workers at grocery store checkouts and fast food counters are women.” [New York Times, 4/18/20]
Women Make Up 77 Percent Of All Health Care Workers. “There are 19 million health care workers nationwide, nearly three times as many as in agriculture, law enforcement and the package delivery industry combined…There are now four registered nurses for every police officer, and still hospitals raise alarms about nursing shortages. Within this massive, ever-growing and now indispensable part of the economy, nearly four out of five workers are women.” [New York Times, 4/18/20]
- In Mid-June, National Nurses United Reported 939 Covid-Related Deaths Among Health Care Workers. “The nation’s largest nurses union, National Nurses United, puts the total much higher: 939 fatalities among health-care workers, based on reports from its chapters around the country, social media and obituaries. Nurses represent about 15 percent of those deaths, the union said.” [Washington Post, 6/17/20]
- An April CDC Report Found That Women Accounted For 73 Percent Of Infections Among Health Care Workers. “This is reflected in another grim statistic: While male doctors and nurses have died on the front lines, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that women account for 73 percent of the U.S. health care workers who have been infected since the outbreak began.” [New York Times, 4/18/20]
In April, The Unemployment Rate For Women Reached 15.5 Percent, Compared To 13 Percent For Men. “The US economy shed an unprecedented 20.5 million jobs in April alone, pushing the unemployment rate to 14.7% — the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began to track monthly data in 1948…But it was worse for women: The unemployment rate for women climbed to 15.5%, while the rate for men increased to 13%, according to the BLS. Women of color were especially hard hit by the job losses, with the April unemployment rates reaching 16.4% for black women and 20.2% for Hispanic women.” [CNN, 5/11/20]
If the ACA is overturned, key protections for women would be ripped away overnight:
- GONE: Protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. The uninsured rate will increase by 65 percent.
- GONE: Insurance companies will be able to charge women 50 percent more than men.
- GONE: Contraception coverage for 60 million people who now have access to birth control with no out-of-pocket costs.
- GONE: A ban on discrimination for women, LGBTQ Americans, and individuals with disabilities in health care settings.
- GONE: Essential protections for breastfeeding parents, including workplace standards and access to breast pumps with no out-of-pocket costs.
68 million women with pre-existing conditions would lose protections. An estimated 68 million women and girls have pre-existing conditions that would be grounds for insurance companies charging more or denying them coverage without the ACA.. According to Planned Parenthood: “Millions of women were denied coverage because of a range of health issues labeled as pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy, breast cancer, and irregular periods. Black and Latino women face higher rates of many chronic illnesses. As a result, higher premiums or denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions threaten the health and financial security of women of color the most.”
Women can be charged more than men for the same coverage. Prior to the ACA, women were often charged premiums on the nongroup market of up to 50 percent higher than men for the same coverage. Without the ACA, women would also lose guaranteed coverage of birth control and other preventive care services. Before the ACA, 1 in 5 women reported postponing or going without preventive care due to cost.
More than 60 million people could lose access to birth control with no out-of-pocket fees. The ACA guarantees that private health plans cover 18 methods of contraception and make them available to 62.4 million patients with no out-of-pocket costs. More than 99 percent of sexually-active women have used contraceptives at some point in their lifetimes, and approximately 60 percent of women of reproductive age currently use at least one birth control method. In addition to increasing access to this essential treatment, this ACA provision has saved money for women and their families: women saved $1.4 billion on birth control pills alone in 2013.
Women, LGBTQ Americans, and individuals with disabilities can face discrimination in health care settings. Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits discrimination the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability by any health program or activity receiving federal assistance. It also prohibits these types of discrimination in health programs and activities administered by HHS as well as the ACA marketplaces.
Nursing parents would lose breastfeeding support and critical workplace protections. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover breastfeeding support and counseling, as well as breast pumps without cost-sharing for pregnant and nursing women.