By Tyler Kingkade
June 27, 2017
Victims of rape and domestic abuse would suffer “devastating” effects if either the House or Senate proposals to revamp health care are passed, a large coalition of advocacy groups said as they demanded that lawmakers tear up their drafts and craft a better bill.
More than 300 national and local nonprofits signed a letter sent to the Senate leadership on Monday, heaping pressure on Republican lawmakers who were forced to delay a vote on the Senate proposal because of lack of support. The vote won’t take place until after the July 4 recess.
The letter, obtained by BuzzFeed News, calls the current Republican proposals in Congress to overhaul the Affordable Care Act “unacceptable” because they could lead to insurance company policies that “simply price people right out of care” — disproportionately affecting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.
When the bill went through the House, viral social media posts said it would deny rape victims coverage altogether based on their assaults, which is not true. And while the House allows billers to charge more for preexisting conditions, the Senate bill does not. But advocates say problems remain because a majority of states do not have laws protecting rape victims from being charged more by insurance companies as a result of their assault. And while rape would not be considered a preexisting condition, that may not be the case for some ailments resulting from assault and their corresponding treatments, like STIs and mental health issues.
“It’d be deeply disappointing to see Congress put policies in place that would directly harm so many survivors,” said Liz Roberts, deputy CEO of Safe Horizon, one of the nation’s largest victims assistance organizations, which also signed the letter.
The groups’ concerns around health care changes focus on key areas like coverage requirements for insurance plans, penalties for people who have gaps in coverage, and preexisting conditions. If the GOP proposals in those areas are enacted, rape and abuse victims will suffer, advocates insist.
“The [Senate bill] will allow insurers to sell plans that cover very little — potentially leaving a victim with a huge bill after an attack — or make comprehensive health insurance so expensive that it’s unaffordable,” the letter argues.