In the wee hours of the morning last week on Friday, the Senate made a historic decision. This decision defends the religious rights of many Americans, as well as no longer forcing American citizens to pay for others’ choices. This historic decision? The overturning of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for co-pay free contraception.
The Senate and House of Representatives both successfully voted against keeping contraception free. Senators began the process of repealing Obamacare. On Wednesday night, January 11th, the Senate voted against an amendment that would have continued the no co-pay contraception law that the ACA introduced in 2012. On Friday, January 13th, the House approved the blueprint from the U.S. Senate that would permit the repealing of the ACA.
We can attribute this repeal, at least in part, to the Trump campaign. Now-President Trump chose Obamacare critic Tom Price as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a clear choice to support his platform. It’s also worth noting that Trump has announced his intention to push a bill, stripping all federal funding for abortion and women’s care provider, Planned Parenthood.
Previously, Obama mandated that all forms of FDA-approved contraception be covered by all insurance plans with no co-pay. That order applied even if the plan was provided through a religious company, like Hobby Lobby, whose beliefs go against the use of contraception.
But despite the rhetoric, birth control wasn’t truly “free”: hard-working Americans also had to pay through their taxes for contraceptives for strangers.
As the Senate moved to repeal Obamacare, the amendments intended to protect provisions passed by the ACA were also repealed—including an additional amendment protecting co-pay free contraceptives and requiring insurance companies to cover costs of said contraceptives. According to Planned Parenthood, this will leave 55 million women without free birth control (though they fail to mention it will leave more money in taxpayer pockets unless allocated elsewhere).
However, something being “historic” doesn’t necessarily connote that it is positive. Republicans have yet to present a replacement plan for Obamacare, so there is quite a bit of uncertainty if birth control will continue to be covered under some new plan. A 2015 study found that “the ACA is saving the average pill user $255 per year, and the average woman receiving an IUD is saving $248.” This is quite a considerable amount that’s being taken from the average taxpayer. (However, until the ACA is officially and fully repealed, women will still be able to receive prescribed contraceptives without a co-pay.)
The overturning of the ACA will have quite the impact on America. We have yet to see if this is a positive or negative decision, and only time will tell. Let’s hope for the best.