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Pregnant women could lose coverage if ‘essential benefits’ are removed under Obamacare replacement

The House needs far-right votes to pass the bill—and cutting pregnancy coverage may help.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Mar 23, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 7:47 pm CDT


The House delayed voting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act Thursday, after Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump spent the day working to garner support from both conservative and moderate Republicans.

It was reported by Politico this morning that one of the ways the Trump administration hoped to get votes from far-right conservatives backed by the House Freedom Caucus was by making last-minute changes to the bill that would have ended the Obamacare provision of “Essential Health Benefits.”

According to conservatives, requiring consumers to have these “luxury” benefits covered in their plans prevents choice and drives premiums up. Included on this list of benefits are preventive screenings and maternity and newborn care—meaning that pregnancy could potentially go uncovered under the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

The White House snapped a photo of the caucus discussing the essential nature of women’s health, and as Mother Jones points out, the lack of female representation is stark.

Under Obamacare, insurance companies were required to cover maternity care as a way to help women who find themselves pregnant but don’t have insurance plans that cover pregnancy. As the Cut reports, without the essential benefits provision, women who then try to change their plans are told their pregnancies are “preexisting conditions,” and are denied coverage.

During Thursday’s White House press conference, however, Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump is against removing protections for preexisting conditions from the AHCA.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows told CNN that the day ended with “30 to 40” caucus votes still against the bill. Republicans can’t lose more than 21 votes to get the bill to pass. The House hopes to try to vote again tomorrow.

H/T The Cut

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*First Published: Mar 23, 2017, 4:06 pm CDT