Posts Tagged - ‘pro-life’

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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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Oklahoma Gov. Vetoes Health Insurance Exchange Abortion Ban

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Image: adamr.stone under CC 3.0

In Oklahoma, conservative legislators have tried to prevent plans in the upcoming health insurance exchanges (set to launch in 2014) from offering abortion coverage in any of their plans in all but the strictest circumstances (to protect the life of the mother, rape, or incest). Several other states have done the same thing in the advent of healthcare reform, but the Oklahoma bill goes further by attempting to ban coverage in any policy sold in the state, whether or not it is part of the subsidized exchanges.

Democratic Governor Brad Henry vetoed the bill. Although abortion coverage would continue to be available through supplemental health insurance plans, that has little practical use–very few people plan in advance that they will terminate a pregnancy.

According to Henry, the bill becoming law would create an expensive legal headache for the state, as well as unfairly penalizing women who fail to report a crime in time. However, the national healthcare reform law allows states to create their own additional regulations on the exchange markets, so removing abortion services from Oklahoma health insurance options would probably be legal.

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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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State Health Insurance Exchanges Differ On Abortion Coverage

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Image: under CC 3.0

National healthcare reform managed to come up with a compromise on the issue of abortion: in keeping with the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funds from being used for the procedure, insurance subsidies cannot be used to pay for it. However, people are allowed to buy a health insurance plan that includes it if they write two checks–the second check coming solely from private money, with the funds being separated through generally accepted accounting principles. Many people on both sides of the issue are skeptical about this convoluted solution, but it passed.

Each state’s responsibility for affordable health insurance exchanges is a different matter. A provision in the law allows states to retain the right to prohibit coverage of abortion outside certain limited circumstances (the mother’s life is endangered, rape, incest). Several states already have such regulations, and others are likely to enact them.

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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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