Abortion Coverage in Obamacare

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BACKGROUND:

Pursuant to Section 1334 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the federal Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is required to ensure that there is at least one multi-state qualified health plan in each exchange that does not provide coverage for those abortions for which federal funding is prohibited as defined in the Hyde Amendment. Consequently, under the ACA, at least one of the “multi-state” plans approved by the Office of Personnel Management for possible availability on all the state exchanges should exclude elective abortions.  So the requirement is on the insurer who offers that health plan, not on the states.  And even the insurer is not required to cover all 50 states until FOUR YEARS after the plan’s approval. 

Insurance plans sold on the exchange will be eligible for federal subsidies even if the subsidized plan covers elective abortion – a radical departure from the policy governing all other federally subsidized health programs. This departure is accompanied by new accounting measures that will result in a mandatory abortion surcharge for many premium holders.  Despite the requirement by law there is little clarity on the subject of health insurance plans that do not cover abortion.  

 

ADMINISTRATION COVER-UP?

In an October 30, 2013 appearance before the Energy and Commerce Committee, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius agreed to provide a list of Obamacare plans indicating whether abortion is covered. Specifically, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) asked “Can you provide for the committee the list of insurers in the federal exchange who do not offer as part of their package abortion coverage?”  Sebelius replied saying “I can do that sir…We should be able to do it…I know that is the plan, I will get that information…”  

To date the Secretary has not provided the list discussed at the October 30 hearing. 

In December 2013 Secretary Sebelius appeared before the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) questioned her on why she has not provided the list.  In an apparent backtracking from her October 30th commitment to provide a list, Sebelius told Rep. Shimkus that “every plan lists plan benefits and the one plan benefit that they must list by law is abortion services, so as a shopper goes on, I would highly recommend that they look in the plan benefits section…”  When Rep. Shimkus pressed further pointing out that he had examples of summary of benefits documents that do not indicate whether or not abortion is covered, she replied “It is on the website…it is available…”

In March 2014, following up from the previous hearings Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), a member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, questioned Secretary Sebelius about two key aspects of abortion coverage in the ObamaCare Exchanges.  National Right to Life has a report of Rep. Harris’ remarks:

At [the] hearing, Harris pointed out to Sebelius that the Maryland Insurance Commissioner had said that Exchange plans don’t have to invoice separately for abortion coverage in plans that cover abortion. (Congressman Harris was referring to Bulletin 13-24 issued by the Maryland Insurance Commissioner to insurers over seven months ago on July 31, 2013). Sebelius tried to evade responsibility for what the Maryland Insurance Commissioner was doing, but under pointed questioning from Congressman Harris she conceded that she has supervisory authority over the Maryland exchange. (For more information on how the two separate payments statutory requirement is being ignored, see “Bait-and -Switch: The Obama Administration’s Flouting of Key Part of Nelson ‘Deal’ on ObamaCare” here.)

 

VIOLATION OF CURRENT LAW

103 of the 112 insurance plans that Members of Congress and congressional staff are being directed to (the Obamacare exchange offered in the District of Columbia -DC Health Link) INCLUDE ELECTIVE ABORTION coverage. Only nine plans offered exclude elective abortion.  (Click here to view flyer regarding the nine plans.)

Many congressional staff –knowingly and unknowingly—signed up for these abortion plans marking a distinct departure from the Smith Amendment, a longstanding law prohibiting abortion coverage in plans provided to federal employees.   This was uncovered in an article by Anna Higgins, Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council.  Anna tried to identify which plans in the D.C. HealthLink excluded abortion.  Telephone representatives for the D.C. HealthLink erroneously informed Anna that all plans on the D.C. exchange include elective abortion.  When Anna published her article about her experience, she was quickly contacted by D.C. officials who apologized, gave the information, added a website FAQ, and informed her that D.C. HealthLink staff would be retrained on the subject so as to correctly answer questions in the future. The FAQ is a step in the right direction although abortion coverage is still not easily identifiable when browsing plans on the D.C. exchange.

The amendment offered by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) three decades ago to ban abortion funding in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Programs is still current law. Like the Hyde Amendment, the Smith Amendment prohibits the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) from funding or even engaging in administrative activities in connection with any plan that includes abortion. However, the Obama Administration is now violating the Smith amendment since OPM has begun to administer a system for Members of Congress and their staff to obtain taxpayer-subsidized insurance coverage that pays for the destruction of innocent unborn children.

 

WHAT IS THE CONCERN?

More taxpayer funds mean more abortions.  Experience with Medicaid indicates that unborn children are saved when abortion is not subsidized by the taxpayers. According to publications by the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute:

·         “In the absence of funding, a significant percentage of pregnancies that would have otherwise been aborted are instead ca
rried to term,”

·         “Approximately one-fourth of women who would have Medicaid-funded abortions instead give birth when this funding is unavailable.”

 

Legislation that addresses the problems of secrecy (short of full repeal):

Rep. Chris Smith’s “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” (H.R. 3279).

 

What can you do? Read more HERE.

 

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