Posts Tagged - ‘abortion’

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Abortion Coverage Banned From Mississippi Health Insurance Exchanges

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Image: Ken Lund under CC 3.0

As part of the healthcare reform law, each state is required to launch insurance exchanges by 2014. These will allow individuals and small businesses to buy health coverage, some with the help of federal subsidies.

There is a minimum standard of acceptable benefits–but beyond that, states have the leeway to decide what those plans should or shouldn’t cover. In Mississippi, Republican Governor Haley Barbour signed a bill that bans health insurance companies from offering abortion coverage in the exchanges.

Since tens of thousands of residents will probably take part in the Mississippi health insurance exchange market, pro-life backers of the bill hope to discourage the procedure.

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4 Facts About Abortion and Health Insurance Reform

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Image: Francis Storr under CC 3.0

Although abortion is currently legal, it is a very controversial issue. Therefore, it played a role in healthcare reform. There have been many proposals, but what does the bill actually say about it?

  1. In the newly created affordable health insurance exchange markets, federal funds cannot be used for elective abortions–considered as those in any case other than rape, incest, or protecting the life of the woman.
  2. States must use generally accepted accounting principles to separate the public funds they receive for subsidies from private premiums paid by individuals; only the latter can go towards the procedure.
  3. States are allowed to forbid health insurance plans that participate in their exchanges from offering abortion coverage.
  4. If your current health plan covers abortion services, the law won’t change that. You will not have to pay for it out-of-pocket in that case.
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Health Insurance Reform and Conscience Clauses

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Image: crowGraphy under CC 3.0

Some worry that affordable health insurance reform will force medical providers to perform services they have moral objections to, such as abortion and euthanasia.

However, that is not the case. Although the Obama administration has considered eliminating the Bush administration’s rule that protects healthcare workers who refuse to perform services due to religious objections, that effort has stalled. At the same time, President Obama signed an executive order reiterating said conscience clauses.

In addition, health insurance plans that participate in the subsidized state and federal exchange markets are not allowed to discriminate against facilities or individuals who refuse to participate in abortions, assisted suicide, and other controversial procedures. In fact, some advocates believe that the law goes too far in protecting employees and doesn’t do enough to protect patients: health plans are also unable to discriminate against providers who refuse to refer a woman to another provider for an abortion. They may still face friction from governments and health care employers, though.

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If You Want Abortion Coverage, Pay Two Health Insurance Premiums

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

(Image: internets dairy under CC 3.0)

In some ways, healthcare reform will make buying health insurance plans easier. However, if you’re a woman who chooses to have abortion coverage, it will be more complicated, starting in 2014. You’ll have to write two checks to your health insurance company every month!

Why? It’s a matter of compromise between President Obama and pro-life Democrats, such as Bart Stupak. Federal law forbids any federal funding of the procedure through the Hyde Amendment. Health insurance reform includes federal subsidies that will help lower- and middle-class individuals buy affordable health insurance. Due to the law, that federal money cannot go towards elective abortion coverage.

While the total health insurance premium won’t be significantly higher, it will have to be split in two portions for payment. The predominant portion will be partially subsidized. The smaller portion, which could be as little as $1, will be set aside for abortion benefits. That portion will be solely funded by private money. Pro-choice advocates fear that the complex auditing process required will discourage health plans from covering the procedure, while some pro-life advocates believe the accounting procedures don’t go far enough to prevent federal money from going towards it.

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Why Pro-Life Democrats Changed Their Minds on Healthcare Reform

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

One of the most unpredictable aspects of the healthcare reform debate was the position of pro-life Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan. Nearly a dozen representatives supported the health insurance legislation that originally passed the House of Representatives in November. However, they were leery of passing the Senate’s bill, because they thought the language against abortion coverage wasn’t strict enough.

The House’s bill expressly prevented any of the affordable health insurance options participating in the federally subsidized exchange market from offering coverage of abortion. The Senate bill–which the House was voting on yesterday–does not directly fund the procedure, but allows plans to offer it if that portion of funds was clearly separated from the subsidy and paid for solely with private money. Stupak and others were skeptical of its effectiveness, but President Obama agreed to sign an executive order reiterating current law. The Hyde Amendment was passed in the 1970s, and prevents government funding of elective abortions. Stupak would like further statutory language, but the issue cannot be dealt with through reconciliation.

While this compromise satisfied pro-life Democrats, Republicans railed against it. They pointed out that executive orders can be revoked by either Congress or the President at any time. One of them even heckled Stupak on the House floor, calling him a “baby killer”. Nevertheless, the anti-abortion Dems pressed on, and pushed the bill over the top in support.

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Democrats May Lose Healthcare Reform Votes Over Abortion

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

The Obama administration has decided to go for broke and officially endorse the budget reconciliation method in order to pass healthcare reform legislation. However, doing so may be harder than they expected.


(Image: David Ortez under CC 3.0)

Originally, health insurance plan reform passed by a margin of 220-215 in the House of Representatives. The solitary Republican who voted in favor of it, Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana, has struggled in fundraising and said that he will oppose it this time around. Meanwhile, several Democrats have retired, and one even switched parties! Some Democrats voted against it the first time around.

According to Rep. Bart Stupak, about 10 to 12 Democratic “yes” votes may evaporate. Their sticking point is abortion: those pro-life representatives believe that the Senate bill’s restrictions against federal funding of health insurance coverage that includes abortion coverage (through the proposed health insurance exchanges) are not as strong as those in the House’s bill. Reconciliation would force them to vote for the Senate bill as-is and accept promises that it will be amended in the future, a prospect of which politicians are certainly skeptical.

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