Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is putting pressure on Rep. Peter Roskam to vote against the Affordable Care Act replacement bill, which features language to “defund” the healthcare non-profit — urging constituents to let him know “women are watching” and will remember his votes come election time next year.
Roskam has been under fire for not hosting in-person meetings about the Obamacare repeal. Last month the Wheaton Republican ducked out of a GOP organization event in Palatine as protesters — upset about his support of the Obamacare repeal — stood outside. He has hosted several “tele-townhalls” instead. He has since attended private meetings with constituents about the Republican replacement plan. The overhaul has prompted concerns among Republicans governors, such as Bruce Rauner and Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker.
Among its changes, the bill partially “defunds” Planned Parenthood by cutting back on the federal funding that can be used for services. Currently, federal funds can be used at Planned Parenthood; new language would prevent Medicaid recipients from getting services at Planned Parenthood — where the majority of patients are accessing cancer screenings, birth control HIV and STI testing and other preventive care. Federal law already blocks federal funding from going to abortion services.
“Folks in his district are really concerned and upset. I think that he really has some answering to do to the women of Illinois and the women of his district,” Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund told the Sun-Times on Monday. “And I think he’s got to really think long and hard because we have seen outpouring of support for Planned Parenthood since Speaker Ryan threatened to end access to care and these are folks who are going to remember when 2018 rolls around.”
Richards said Planned Parenthood is telling Roskam’s constituents in the west suburban 6th Congressional District to contact his office and “let him know that they are paying attention — that women are watching and that they do not support his efforts to end access to Planned Parenthood.”
Richards says the GOP bill would have a “devastating” impact on low-income patients and women in Illinois who rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health services. The non-profit says it provides services for more than 60,000 patients at 16 health centers in Illinois, including 33,000 in Cook County. A third of those patients access care through Medicaid and would be blocked if Planned Parenthood is defunded.
Roskam is the chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy, which last week voted to move forward the American Health Care Act — the replacement for Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act. Roskam has said the new plan — which many are dubbing Trump Care — rids “Obamacare’s draconian taxes and mandates,” provides monthly tax credits for low and middle income individuals and families and expands access to health savings accounts.
Roskam has said Obamacare “failed the American people” by making Illinois families pay more for fewer benefits, while increasing premiums.
On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis that found the Republican bill would lead to 14 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2018 and 24 million by 2026. Roskam, however, released a statement on Monday calling that analysis “misleading,” and saying it analyzed the American Health Care Act despite it being just “the first step in a series of initiatives to repeal and replace the failed law.”
The congressman’s office declined comment on Richards’ remarks.
While Richards is focusing on national efforts to put pressure on lawmaker to nix the Obamacare replacement, she said she’s encouraged by a Democratic-sponsored bill in the Illinois House to abolish the state’s “trigger law” that states that if Roe v. Wade is overturned abortion would become illegal in Illinois — as would some forms of birth control. The measure, led by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and sponsored by 23 other Democratic state representatives, has yet to be called for a vote. That bill has been publicly opposed by anti-abortion groups and Cardinal Blase Cupich.
“It’s incredibly important — HB40 — because, look, we see an administration that is threatening to appoint justices to the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade. The very right to safe and legal abortion which women in this country have had for more than 40 years is absolutely at risk. It is important that in every state we can that we both remove bad trigger language that exists in some states and that we fully support the ability of women to have access to safe and legal abortions.
“…We are proud to be standing with others to support HB40 and remove any kind of discriminatory language we can from Illinois law,” Richards said.