Health Insurance Plans May Drop Abortion Coverage
The reform bill passed in the House has the potential to change what all health insurance plans cover. An amendment proposed by Bart Stupak, which passed in the House of Representatives, prevents federal funding from being used to buy any health insurance plan that offers coverage of elective abortions. In exchange for the votes of pro-life Democrats essential to pass the legislation, the healthcare reform bill was modified. The previous language only prevented government money from being used directly to pay for an abortion.
Obviously, the public option will not include abortion coverage. However, the ban extends to private health insurers participating in the government’s insurance exchange. Low- and medium-income individuals and families will receive subsidies in order to buy a health insurance plan. A compromise proposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which would serve to distinguish private dollars from federal money and allow insurers to cover abortion services with solely the latter, was rejected. Many people with employer-provided or individual health insurance have abortion coverage provided in their policies. In order to enter the potentially lucrative exchange market, insurers might eliminate that coverage entirely.
Those who pay for their entire health insurance policy out-of-pocket will still be allowed to buy plans that provide abortion coverage, although the availability and affordability of these plans will most likely decrease. Pro-choice advocates, such as Planned Parenthood, are crying foul.
Interestingly, the amendment received 240 votes–higher than the actual bill’s margin of victory. Assuming that many pro-choice Democrats voted against it, this result means that a significant portion of Republicans voted for the amendment. Whether they wanted to salvage something they wanted out of a bill that was almost certain to pass or sabotage the bill by creating a schism between Democrats, they decided to amend a bill while rejecting the bill itself.
(Image: mahalie under CC 2.0)