Trumpcare and the Return of Rape and Domestic Violence as Pre-existing Conditions

The Washington Post's Fact Checker gave UltraViolet and other women's health advocates four "Pinocchios" for warning about Trumpcare's impact on survivors of rape and domestic violence. The only problem? UltraViolet was right and the Post was wrong.

On May 6, the Washington Post published a disconcerting piece denying that the House-passed Trumpcare bill would ultimately lead to discrimination against victims of rape, sexual assault, or domestic violence. Even the headline (“Despite critics’ claims, the GOP health bill doesn’t classify rape or sexual assault as a preexisting condition”) is a masterpiece of contortion; while technically true, it is misleading readers about the bill’s real-world impact.

The rest of reporter Michelle Ye Hee Lee’s piece is no different: “The AHCA does not specifically address or classify rape or sexual assault as a pre-existing condition,” she writes. “It also would not deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition” (emphasis mine).

That’s true. There’s no language in the bill declaring rape, sexual assault, or domestic violence to be pre-existing conditions. And the bill does, indeed, require insurance companies to offer coverage to everyone, even if they operate in a state that has opted out of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) consumer protections for pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits.

But under the GOP bill, insurance companies would be allowed to both price some sick people out of the market and refuse to cover essential services that people might need. For all practical purposes, this takes us back to the pre-ACA world. A cancer patient who is offered insurance with a, say, $10,000 per month premium that doesn’t cover hospitalizations or cancer drugs is, practically speaking, no different than a patient not offered insurance at all.  Read the rest of this piece at

Sarah Christopherson, MA, is the Legislative Director for the social justice campaign, Americans for Tax Fairness, and the NWHN’s former Policy Advocacy Director. Her 10 years working for Congress and her deep knowledge of health policy and consumer protection make her the NWHN’s issue area expert on federal health reform implementation and defense, drug and device safety and efficacy, and sexual and reproductive health.

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