Trans People in the Health Reform Fight: What's at Stake
June 13, 2017
The news is breaking that the Senate will vote this month on a bill to advance "Trumpcare" and repeal key sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA has helped more than 20 million people obtain new health insurance coverage, including trans people, people living with HIV and millions of others who were previously locked out of coverage. It bans coverage denials because of pre-existing conditions; requires insurance plans to cover important care such as HIV tests, prescription drugs and mental health services; and prohibits discrimination against LGBT people's access to coverage and care. In contrast, Trumpcare, or the American Health Care Act (AHCA), is bad news for trans people -- particularly those living with or at risk for HIV. Here's why, and here's what we can do about it:
Loss of Health Insurance Coverage
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the AHCA would cause 23 million Americans to lose their health insurance coverage by 2026. Trans people are already more likely than cisgender people to not have health coverage, and trans women, in particular, have among the highest rates of HIV. The ACA has been making progress in closing the coverage gap -- and the AHCA would undermine that progress in four main ways.
The ACA improved the quality of health insurance coverage by ending three common insurance practices that particularly harmed people who regularly need health care due to conditions such as HIV: plans that paid for only a small amount of actual health costs, plans that excluded important health care services from coverage and "high-risk pools." The AHCA would reintroduce all these practices.
Weakened Nondiscrimination Protections
In addition to financial help to afford coverage, the expansion of Medicaid and new standards for plan quality, the ACA introduced new protections that prohibit discrimination against LGBT people, people living with HIV and others who have historically been mistreated when seeking health coverage and care. The law's primary nondiscrimination protection, Section 1557, would not be repealed by the AHCA in its current form. However, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and President Trump have already promised to join forces with Congress to continue the work of dismantling the ACA from the inside. The passage of the AHCA would give the Trump administration exactly the ammunition it needs to destroy the remaining parts of the ACA -- including the law's nondiscrimination protections.
What to Do About It
Trans people, people living with HIV and millions of our friends and allies are in danger from the American Health Care Act. The passage of the AHCA would undo seven years of progress on making health insurance coverage and health care fairer, more affordable and more accessible. Here's how to show the Senate that we can't afford to go back:
Kellan Baker, M.P.H., M.A., is a senior fellow with the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, where he works on a range of LGBT health policy issues. Baker is a founding steering committee member of Out2Enroll, a nationwide initiative that works to connect LGBT people and their families with new health insurance coverage options under the Affordable Care Act.
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This article was provided by TheBody.com.
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