If the goal of these abortion bans was truly to protect life, there would also be concerted efforts focused on evidence-based policies that prevent unplanned pregnancies through effective and affordable birth control, reduce infant mortality rates, and decrease the number of maternal deaths. Evidence also clearly points to the value and health benefits to Ohio’s women, families, and economy when there is adequate access to affordable preventative health care, family planning services and sex education, prenatal care, livable wages, quality childcare, paid family leave, and higher education. Yet, the legislative agenda of the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly does not include policies that advance these issues. Instead, it focuses on abortion bans, the defunding of health insurance coverage and access for women, and undermining the right of Ohio’s workers to negotiate fair wages and benefits.
Here we go again. This week, another effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is emerging in the U.S. Senate, representing a last-ditch effort to dismantle the law before the September 30th fiscal year deadline under the obscure Federal budget reconciliation process. Like other repeal efforts before it, the Graham-Cassidy Plan would undo the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which extended health coverage to individuals earning below 138 percent of the Federal poverty level, and ban Medicaid reimbursement for family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood. The plan also allows states the ability to get waivers that let insurers charge sick patients higher premiums for pre-existing conditions and to stop covering certain essential benefits such as maternity care, well-care visits, and preventative screenings. In addition to the Medicaid expansion cuts, the Graham-Cassidy Plan would also drastically cut funding to the rest of the Medicaid program through the use of per-capita caps, which significantly shortchange current state Medicaid spending on non-expansion populations and increase the likelihood that states will need to raise taxes, cut other budget priorities, or make increasingly severe cuts to Medicaid eligibility groups, “optional” benefits like home- and community-based services, and provider payments. For states like Ohio, where coverage was expanded to 723,000 individuals, the Graham-Cassidy Plan would be devastating, rolling back the state’s coverage gains and causing hundreds of thousands of low-income individuals to lose access to health care.
Saturday’s shocking display of hate and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia should be condemned in the strongest terms, and these events are a jolting reminder of how much work remains to be done to stop the normalization of bigotry and white nationalism. Images of hundreds of white men marching through the streets, proudly displaying their signs of neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan pride, will most certainly mark a period of 21st century regressiveness to future generations. It is a shameful moment for our country.
The Saturday Dispatch article “Retreat on Medicaid may fuel drug crisis” reported that Ohio House Rep. Wesley A. Goodman, R-Cardington, has proposed a budget amendment to freeze enrollment in the highly successful Medicaid expansion to more than 700,000 individuals. This freeze would remove newly eligible individuals’ ability to obtain Medicaid or prevent those individuals who drop off the rolls the ability to return.