Rep. Smith Releases Letter on Abortion Coverage in Multi-State Plans
From a friend on the Hill:
As you know, finding out about abortion coverage on the exchanges or marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act is extremely difficult. In the 27 states that allow plans to cover elective abortion on the exchanges, it is almost impossible for consumers to identify whether or not the plan they are considering includes elective abortion.
(Yester)day, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) released information about abortion coverage in a small subset of plans called Multi-State Plans (MSPs), which are unique because their contracts are negotiated with the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM). There are over 150 MSPs sold by Blue Cross Blue Shield and available in 30 states and the District of Columbia. According to a letter from the Director of OPM all but two of these MSPs exclude abortion. The two that include elective abortion are sold in Alaska.
This information may be helpful to consumers searching for plans that exclude elective abortion since generally plans that have “Multi-State Plan” in their title will not include abortion, but consumers should be aware that not all Blue Cross Blue Shield plans will exclude abortion. They must look for “Multi-State Plan” in the title if they want to select a plan without abortion coverage.
As explained in the press release from Rep. Smith (attached below), there are still potentially thousands of plans being sold on Affordable Care Act exchanges that include elective abortion – contrary to the longstanding principles of the Hyde amendment. Furthermore, the exchanges fail to provide information about abortion coverage to consumers. The letter from OPM speaks to this issue stating that only the States and HHS can improve abortion coverage transparency. Rep. Chris Smith calls on President Obama to direct HHS to be transparent about abortion coverage in Obamacare plans.
New Jersey’s Fourth Congressional District
Co-Chair of Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jeff Sagnip (202) 225-3765
Nov. 13, 2013 http://chrissmith.house.gov
Rep. Smith says Obamacare Massively Violates Hyde Amendment, but Notes Most “Multi-State Plans” Exclude Abortion
Washington, DC—“Rollout of the Obamacare exchanges revealed that many health insurance plans throughout the nation will subsidize abortion on demand—even late term abortions,” said Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Co-Chairman of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus.
“Billions of taxpayers’ dollars will now be handed out as credits to buy pro-abortion health insurance—a clear violation of the Hyde Amendment’s fundamental principle of restricting funds to abortion subsidizing health insurance plans. At its core, the Hyde Amendment has two parts. It prohibits funding for abortion and funding for any insurance plan that includes abortion except in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother,” Smith said.
“Obamacare further breaks with longstanding law by establishing new abortion surcharges and an unseemly marketing secrecy clause. The new law requires premium payers to be assessed an abortion surcharge every month to pay for abortions. But many pro-life Americans may unwittingly purchase pro-abortion plans because of a marketing secrecy clause,” said Smith.
“For pro-life individuals seeking health insurance on the exchange in the states with Multi-State Plans available, it will be a relief to know that with only two exceptions, any of the Blue Cross Blue Shield plans with ‘Multi-State’ in their title will exclude elective abortion,” Smith said. He also noted that “in many cases Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans that do not include the words ‘Multi-State’ in their title will include elective abortion. Since abortion coverage is not clearly identified on the exchange websites, consumers may have difficulty identifying which plans exclude abortion.”
In response to a letter spearheaded by Rep. Smith (R-NJ), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has confirmed that all but two of the plans with “Multi-State Plan” in their title and sold on the Obamacare exchanges exclude elective abortion coverage. In a letter, OPM made this important clarification regarding Multi-State Plans, which constitute a small segment of just over 150 of the plans sold under Obamacare. Which of the thousands of other Obamacare plans cover abortion remains unknown.
“When searching the many more plans available on their state’s exchange pro-life Americans remain unable to ascertain which plans, if any, exclude abortion. It is an outrage that Members of Congress had to write to OPM just to learn whether abortion is included in the currently available multi-state plans, which are just a small subset of plans. While it is a step in the right direction to have information about this one set of plans, Americans continue to be left in the dark regarding the thousands of other plans sold on the federally facilitated marketplace and the state-run exchanges,” said Smith.
The OPM letter also specifies that only the States and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can control whether abortion benefit information is displayed to consumers shopping in the Marketplace.
“It is up to President Obama to direct HHS to inform consumers about abortion coverage in Obamacare plans. His law already breaks with the decades old Hyde Amendment by allowing federal subsidies for plans that include abortion, now he won’t even give consumers the ability to make an informed choice,” Smith said.
The “Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act,” (H.R. 3279) was introduced by Smith to require prominent, transparent disclosure of abortion coverage for each plan offered on an exchange. It also requires that the amount of the abortion surcharge be clearly identified for each plan that includes elective abortion.