Congress tells HHS Affordable Care Act enrollees are still unwittingly paying for abortions
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Congress tells HHS Affordable Care Act enrollees are still unwittingly paying for abortions

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A letter from members of Congress, signed by 25 United States senators and 100 representatives, is urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to act quickly on a proposed rule that would end a hidden abortion surcharge in the Affordable Care Act before open enrollment for 2020 this November.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Exchange Program Integrity would ensure that ACA plans that cover elective abortion collect the fees to pay for the abortions separately from the fee for the plan, and keep the abortion fee in a separate account intended only to be used to pay for abortions. This is required in the law, according to section 1303.

However, according to Senator Hyde-Smith’s letter to the HHS from the members of Congress, under the Obama administration, the fee for the entire plan, including the abortion coverage, was collected at one time and kept in one account. This essentially created a fungible account to pay for abortions with money from all enrollees, rather than only those who opt to pay for it. Separating the two also creates a distinction between health care coverage and abortion coverage.

READ: Abortion advocates in Congress want states banned from passing pro-life laws

The letter makes it clear that, while this is still a violation of the Hyde Amendment, correcting this would be an important step to stopping pro-life Americans paying for abortions without their knowledge. “There is an urgency to ensure people are not unknowingly supporting abortions if they’re enrolled in ACA health plans. The Obama administration strayed far from the law by allowing hidden abortion surcharges on people who would never condone their hard-earned money going to support abortions,” said Hyde-Smith in a statement. “The regulations need to be corrected as soon as possible.”

“Taxpayer money should never be used to take innocent lives, and Obamacare passed with the promise that taxpayers would not have to subsidize another person’s abortion,” Cloud added in the statement.  “Nevertheless, these hidden abortion surcharges were pushed upon Americans who would have objected had they known.”

“Obamacare was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand since Roe,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, in a media release. “The Obama administration then wrongly reinterpreted its own law to allow insurers to ignore the plain language of the law requiring an abortion surcharge to be collected separately. The sooner the rule restoring the original intent of the law is finalized, the fewer excuses insurers will have for noncompliance,” she said, urging that it should be done in time for the next open enrollment period. But even then, she added, further work is needed. “Congress must still act to eliminate abortion funding from Obamacare.”

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