The March of Dimes released the following statement from President Stacey D. Stewart on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), legislation that will be taken up by the House of Representatives this week:
“Women, children and families need quality, affordable health coverage to lead healthy, productive lives. Unfortunately, in its current form, the American Health Care Act will deny millions of pregnant women and their families the affordable coverage and quality services they need.
“The American Health Care Act fails to meet one critical test of success by causing significant coverage losses. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 14 million people will lose or drop coverage in the first year after passage, and 24 million within a decade. This would include many women of childbearing age and children who need access to vital health services.
“In the individual market, critical consumer protections will also vanish. For example, insurers will be able to place onerous conditions on coverage for anyone who did not maintain consistent coverage for any reason, including people with pre-existing conditions. This would almost certainly result in higher rates for pregnant women or children with complex medical conditions.
“Every year, preterm birth costs our nation over $26 billion. An infant born preterm costs an average of 10 times more than an infant born without complications. Other adverse birth outcomes increase that cost further. Our nation cannot afford to put in place policies that make it more difficult for women to get the coverage and services they need to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.
“The AHCA’s proposal to repeal the Medicaid expansion would leave millions of low-income women of childbearing age without access to care. Medicaid coverage offers these women a critical opportunity to get healthy before they get pregnant. Even if they qualify after becoming pregnant, women may receive inadequate services because states will no longer be required to cover maternity and newborn care. Women, infants, and communities will bear the long-term cost if prenatal care is shortchanged and more babies are born sick as a result.
“The March of Dimes urges the House of Representatives to reconsider this legislation. We would welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with policymakers to achieve our mutual goals of ensuring better, more affordable coverage for all Americans.”