written by: Joaneileen Coughlin, WomenRising's Director of Domestic Violence Services
When the United State Congress voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) bill, whose life did they consider?
Did they consider the survivor of domestic violence who struggles to sleep at night because she is reminded that the last time she vulnerably closed her eyes, her husband attacked her so badly she was hospitalized for several days?
Did they consider how much this woman depends on Prazosin to help her get the necessary amount of sleep in order to perform well at her job the next day? Did they consider that this attack is now considered a pre-existing condition, and under the new health care act she can be precluded from getting insurance or face much higher insurance bills?
By voting Yes for this bill members of Congress essentially voted No for the safety and health of domestic violence victims and survivors. The American Health Care Act will prevent victims from getting the medical and behavioral health services that they may need because it allows states to waive essential health benefits.
Domestic Violence becomes a part of a victim's life in the most devastating way. Their trust is broken, they are wounded and defeated and left to cope with the terrible situation that has made its way into their life. Health care and counseling are critical to the survivor's safety and recovery because victims often suffer from chronic health problems like; anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and many others.
Under the American Health Care Act, victims will be prevented from getting the much needed medical and mental health services that are essential to advance toward safety and recovery.
Domestic Violence is not confined to a particular socio-economic class or culture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of four American women have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime, with 70 percent of victims first experiencing abuse before the age of 25. However, because the new AHCA will make premiums more expensive and will increase out-of-pocket costs, coverage will be priced nearly out of reach for middle and low income victims.
Although the House of Representatives has chosen to disregard victims of domestic violence and other vulnerabilities, we strongly urge the Senate to make the more humane choice and reject this attempt to repeal the protections and services that are so critical to domestic violence victims and their families. Everyone can get involved by contacting their Representatives to let them know how their vote has impacted survivors of domestic violence.