How the American Healthcare Act Would Affect New Moms

Here's what you need to know about how the proposed new health care plan would change the lives of new mothers who are on Medicaid.

New moms impacted by AHCA morrowlight/Shutterstock
The American Health Care Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives, will bring some significant changes. And while there's plenty of coverage of the ways in which the plan would affect women's health issues—including allowing insurance companies to increase the cost of your health insurance if you have a gap in coverage for any reason and one of many preexisting conditions, such as a previous C-section or postpartum depression—you may not be aware of how the plan will impact new mothers on Medicaid.

Let's back up a bit: As we've reported, women in the United States are not legally entitled to paid maternity leave on a national level. Obviously, this is problematic—anyone who has ever had children understands that having time to care for and bond with your baby (along with recovering from childbirth yourself) is crucial. And while American women are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the proposed legislation will give new mothers even less time away from the workplace—at least, if they want to keep their healthcare.

The version of the AHCA which passed on Thursday drastically cuts Medicaid funding—and Medicaid currently covers nearly half of all births in the country. As part of a revision of the initial law, moms on Medicaid will have to find jobs within just 60 days of giving birth or their coverage will be revoked. 

Politics aside, this is a tough idea to swallow—having a baby is one the hardest things a person can do, and the prospect of not having adequate prenatal care due to Medicaid cuts, or job hunting while physically healing and caring for a newborn seems incredibly unfair. President Trump ran on a platform promising six weeks of paid leave for new moms, and while this is a separate issue from the AHCA's effect on new moms, it's unfortunate that they won't get the help they deserve. Low-income families often struggle to find work. This will put extra pressure on them, or strip them and their children of their healthcare coverage at a crucial time—right when their babies would benefit from wellness checks and vaccinations.

Think about how stressful those early days of motherhood are, and imagine dealing with the stress of knowing you're facing a hard, tight deadline where finding a new job is concerned—or you may lose your healthcare coverage. New mothers shouldn't be stressing about job applications and heading to interviews and worrying about securing healthcare for their newborns—along with the childcare that you'd need to work that job. Let's not punish people for having families—and let's help give our newest citizens a healthy start to their lives.

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