Panicked about losing your healthcare coverage or affordable birth control under the incoming Douchebag in Chief? Aren't we all? It's terrifying that the incoming president is actually treating "take away healthcare, the thing that keeps people alive" as a line-item on his hateful to-do list. But he is. So I looked into what we can actually expect over the next months and years.
Here's what's going to happen to your healthcare coverage now that an alleged rapist who doesn't want to live in the White House wants to take it away*:
The good news? The repeal will take a while. It probably can't actually happen on Day One, as Trump has promised. Here's Kaiser Health News (KHN):
“It’s a complex process to alter a law as complicated as the ACA,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University. It seems unlikely that congressional Republicans could force through a repeal of the law since Democrats have enough votes to sustain a filibuster blocking that move. So Congress might opt to use a budget procedure, called “reconciliation,” that allows revenue-related changes, such as eliminating the premium tax credits, with simple majority votes. Yet even that process could take months.
One health care expert who spoke to KHN estimated that 2019 is the earliest we'd see the law replaced completely. So that's the good news: IRL Immortan Joe may want to repeal the Affordable Care Act on the first day of his unfortunate presidency, but he won't be able to. We're looking at a process that at the quickest will take months.
More good news: Insurers are contractually obligated to keep you covered for 2017. So if you're currently on an Obamacare plan—or sign up for one by January—you'll likely keep your coverage until 2018. If you don't have health insurance, I'd recommend signing up for Obamacare NOW. Open enrollment runs through January 2017.
Here's where we get to the birth control coverage mandate. I wrote about this last week, and urged readers to get IUDs now if they want them to be free under the Obamacare birth control mandate. I still think getting an IUD is a good idea, but some caveats have come to my attention that I'd like to make sure you know about before you pop 800 mg of ibuprofen and call me for a ride home from your appointment**. We know that the birth control mandate will likely be stricken from the Affordable Care Act because when pressed on it by Jake Tapper on CNN, Paul "Cowardly" Ryan refused to comment on what would happen to it. Which leaves us with Ryan's record on reproductive rights, and Mike Pence's, and they are awful. If they can do something to fuck with women's access to birth control, it's safe to assume they probably will.
So yes, we have reason to worry.
But as with the other changes to the law, this is going to take SOME TIME. My guess is that you probably have at least a year to get your government-mandated free IUD or hefty supply of birth control pills. Another important caveat: IUDs are great (#TeamParaGard) but they also require an uncomfortable, invasive procedure and there's an initial settling-in period that's not fun, so if you don't really want to get an IUD, or if it isn't right for you, don't get one out of panic. At least not yet. Take a little time to decide if this is what you want—maybe not more than a year, though***.
But if you've been thinking about getting an IUD, now is a good time to take the plunge. This is a good guide to what happens when you get one. I recommend Valium before, and taking the rest of the day off work after. A heating pad, a ton of ibuprofen, your favorite foods, and Netflix are also good ideas.
It's still not clear how some of the other provisions of the Affordable Care Act might be affected by the incoming "Commander" "in" "Chief." Probably scariest of all is the Medicaid expansion, which expanded access to free or low-cost healthcare to adults with incomes of about $16,000.
But one thing to remember in all of this is that repealing the Affordable Care Act is going to take a long time and it has the potential to make the Republicans extremely unpopular—especially since the timeline for killing the law coincides with midterm elections in 2018. It's entirely possible that the Trump administration will backpedal on their stupid plan to take away health care from over 16 million Americans who otherwise wouldn't have it. Here's hoping that doing the right thing for political expediency wins the day. Hey, it could happen.
*We are so fucked!
**I'm serious about that last point. If you are my friend, and you need a ride to or from your IUD appointment, I am happy to drive you. Because not all of us have supportive partners with daytime availability or locally based parental figures, and if you have Valium (which I 100 percent recommend) they don't let you go home by yourself. Call me. Seriously. I don't care how early I have to wake up.