At an event for the Ms. Foundation on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton talked about the photograph that showed Vice President Mike Pence meeting at the White House in March with the right wing House Republican Freedom Caucus to hash out a deal on slashing Obamacare. The meeting was all men. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray from Washington State tweeted that the picture offered a “rare look inside the GOP’s women’s health caucus.” And during her speech Wednesday, Hillary Clinton said that her favorite reaction to the photograph was one showing a bunch of dogs sitting around a table debating feline health care.
The next day, Thursday, House Republicans voted to take health insurance away from 24 million Americans and jeopardize coverage for millions more with pre-existing conditions. While Obamacare was certainly an imperfect bill, what Trump and the Republicans are championing is downright cruel and disastrous — moving America backwards instead of forward. And, even more perversely, the bill written and passed mostly by wealthy white men will have its most harmful impacts on poor women of color.
Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, calls the Trumpcare legislation “the worst bill for women’s health in a generation.” Richards explains, “It makes it harder to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to have a healthy pregnancy, and harder to raise a family.”
That’s not just because the bill says that Planned Parenthood can no longer be reimbursed for the same basic health care treatment that other clinics and hospitals get Medicaid reimbursement for. In addition, despite however many times Republicans lie and try to insist otherwise, the bill eliminates protections for people with pre-existing conditions. That means that insurance companies could once again charge people hundreds of times more for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
Before Obamacare, rape, postpartum depression, C-sections and having survived domestic violence were all considered pre-existing conditions. Obamacare decreed that insurance companies could no longer deny coverage nor charge more for coverage based on such “conditions.” Trumpcare would remove those protections.
Needless to say, these so-called pre-existing conditions almost exclusively affect women. Needless to say, they were voted in almost exclusively by men.
Obamacare also required that all insurance cover ten “essential benefits” — things like hospitalization and maternity and mental health care. Trumpcare would allow the states to seek waivers to scrap this requirement for their citizens.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the Republican health care legislation would slash funding for Medicaid while giving billions in tax breaks to the wealthy. As Michelle Chen writes in The Nation, the war on Planned Parenthood is an assault on poor women of color. “Immigrant women are especially dependent on subsidized community clinics, as they are often excluded from formal healthcare services like Medicaid,” Chen explains. So when Republicans cut Medicaid funding, they’re literally taking health care from poor women. And then when they deny reimbursements to Planned Parenthood, they’re jeopardizing the charity care Planned Parenthood provides to women who don’t qualify for Medicaid — not to mention to women who don’t have other health care options in their communities.
And Republicans are doing this while literally handing over gobs of money to millionaires and billionaires.
After gutting health care for the American people, and especially for poor women and women of color, the white Republican dudes in Congress felt like tossing a few back.
Democrats in the House rightfully voted unanimously against this punitive, backwards, destructive legislation. The vast majority of the House Republicans voted for it. (These GOP reps did not.) Bear in mind that today, the House Republican caucus is 91 percent male. The percentage of Republican women in Congress has actually since 2006.
It’s funny to imagine a bunch of dogs in a meeting voting on feline health care. But it’s preposterous to imagine a group of all women legislators making the decisions about what health care men can and cannot access — not only because it’s sadly preposterous to imagine a group of all women legislators but because men, their health care and their needs are so regularly put on a pedestal. For the last several years, we’ve actually been debating whether and how women should have access to birth control in America, in the 21st century. Incidentally, a Democratic amendment to ban registered sex offenders from using their federal tax-advantaged health savings accounts to buy Viagra was rejected by Republicans. And in most states, Medicaid covers medicine for male erectile dysfunction.
On Thursday afternoon, after the bill passed the House, Donald Trump hosted a gloating party in the White House Rose Garden featuring a backdrop of almost entirely white Republican men celebrating how they were rolling back the health care and safety of the American people. Beer was spotted being delivered for a party on Capitol Hill. After gutting health care for the American people, and especially for poor women and women of color, the white Republican dudes in Congress felt like tossing a few back.
Once again, photos of rich white men circulated. But as writer Joe Berkowitz pointed out on Twitter, those visuals weren’t a mistake: Trump’s mantra around Making America Great Again “is/was/will always be about putting rich old white men at the forefront of every decision.” When you have a misogynist white supremacist administration, you get misogynist white supremacist policy.