Republicans in Congress alongside Trump are to thank for higher health care premiums in California and for more than four million people nationwide losing health insurance. Now, a new health care rule from the Trump administration threatens access to high-quality health care for an additional one million low-income Californians.
The Trump administration is proposing a new rule to penalize clinics prioritizing comprehensive health care options for women. According to the Washington Post, “The Trump administration is proposing to bar clinics that provide abortion services or referrals from receiving federal family-planning funds, a far-reaching move that would deprive Planned Parenthood and other women’s health centers of millions of dollars a year.”
The draconian move attacks hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds under Title X, a federal grant program set up to help low-income people access subsidized care at clinics. Clinics use these funds for basic health care services, such as cancer screenings, birth control, screenings for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests and well-woman exams. And some Title X clinics offer referral to, or themselves provide, abortion services.
The new rule would require a “physical and financial separation” between clinics that receive Title X funds and any organization that provides abortions or referrals to abortion clinics, which would affect $260 million total in funding.
Because of this rule, “[m]ore than 1 million low-income Californians could see new barriers to reproductive care,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Federal law prevents any federal funding to be used to perform abortions, but this rule goes further, threatening access to care for an estimated one million Californians, as Alina Salganicoff, vice president and director of women’s health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), explains:
“In California, Title X is a really important part of enabling family planning clinics to provide a broad range of services to provide the highest quality of care. If they don’t get the Title X funds, it would really strain the ability of the clinics to give women the services they need.“
The Los Angeles Times criticizes the proposed rule, saying it, “could end up destabilizing the community health providers and clinics that are a lifeline for low-income women across the country.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) went further, calling the proposed rule, “a callous disregard for the wellbeing of American women and families.” She went on to note, “it’s clear that this Administration does not value Americans’ rights to accurate health information, comprehensive health care, or if and when one chooses to have a family.”
A recent KFF study backs up Chu’s claims, concluding that health clinics, with patients that are “overwhelmingly low-income, members of a racial or ethnic minority group, and disproportionately female,” have better performance measures if they receive Title X funds. “Across virtually all measures of performance, the receipt of additional Title X funding lifted performance,” the report states.
California Republicans, on the other hand, have a long history of attacking clinics that focus on low-income Americans, such as Planned Parenthood. Reps. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) each voted for the Republicans repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which also called for cutting patients off from care at Planned Parenthood. The majority of Americans, as well as the majority of Republicans, opposed cutting off funds to Planned Parenthood.
Walters, Rohrabacher, and Knight each have a 0 percent rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
The three Republicans voted against more than just the ability of low-income women to access quality health care. The Republican health care bill also contained an “age tax” which would have allowed “insurance companies to charge people between the ages of 50 and 64 (those too young for Medicare) five times what they can charge younger consumers,” according to the AARP.
Further, the bill eroded protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. As Politifact reported, “Insurers would be able to charge people significantly more if they had a pre-existing condition like heart disease, cancer, diabetes or arthritis — possibly requiring people to pay thousands of dollars extra every year to remain insured.”
The Republican assault on women’s health care continues, now threatening a million Californians. As Chu said in her statement, “Make no mistake, this proposed rule has one purpose: to limit women’s access to care.”
Republicans like Walters, Rohrabacher, and Knight will likely remain silent, preferring to stand by Trump rather than stand up for women in their own state.