BY CARDINE JOHNSON
While uncertainty continues to surround the state of healthcare in the United States, women may be facing yet another blow. Over the past three years more than 4 million women have been able obtain medical insurance by enrolling in Medicaid benefits. Medicaid provides medical services for women that include mental health services, medical screenings, family planning, and reproductive healthcare, but can easily be eliminated if the funding is decreased. Medicaid is funded by both the individual states and the federal government. However, under proposed changes, Medicaid benefits could be reduced by 800 billion dollars. Medicaid benefits, for the first time in its history, has allowed low-income women without children access to healthcare. As reported by the National Women’s Law Center, in the past Medicaid was primarily for women with children, disabled individuals, pregnant women, and women over the age of 65. These changes will affect single mothers and women who are heads of households. If their coverage is lost, the ability to maintain a household while trying to maintain their wellbeing will become more challenging if not impossible.
The proposed bill indicates that states will receive a block grant with a fixed amount that allows them to alter the health care services they offer. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price says,
“We believe that it's important to allow states to have that flexibility to fashion the program for their vulnerable population that actually responds to that population in a way that gives them the authority, them the choices, them the opportunity to gain coverage and the care that they believe most appropriate.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) states the American Health Care Act (AHCA) has plans to cut federal funding while matching the state budgets and placing a cap on the amount each Medicaid insurer receives.
So what does all of this mean? If all goes according to plan, in 2026, the federal spending will continue to be reduced and Medicaid will be decreased by 25% and there will be 14 million more individuals with no coverage. This proposed budget will be detrimental and life threatening to the health and well being of millions of women who have benefited from healthcare provided by Medicaid.