Alliance Defending Freedom, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and the Family Research Council submitted an open letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) voicing the concerns shared by American taxpayers regarding illegal abortion coverage in the Affordable Care Act.
The letter takes issue with the Obama administration’s obfuscation of this coverage, as well as its unwillingness to move forward in an open and transparent manner to resolve the issue. The writers recall:
Practical experience has demonstrated that it is virtually impossible for even diligent researchers reviewing insurance coverage options on an ACA exchange to discover whether the
plans include abortion coverage.
As the letter notes, proposed rules submitted by OPM have further failed to make headway in remedying the situation.
The letter points out that the demand for transparency is motivated not only by pro-life concerns, but also by opposition to the secrecy that has dominated the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
Whether one supports or opposes abortion or insurance coverage for abortion, our nation has historically and legislatively affirmed the right not to participate in or facilitate abortions in violation of one’s conscience. This principle is now
in serious jeopardy. We have heard from many Americans who have been shocked to learn that the healthcare plan they have enrolled in not only includes elective abortions, but requires them to pay an additional fee – undisclosed to them – that can only be used to pay for others’ elective abortions.
Although the OPM’s proposed rules address the issue of transparency in regard to what enrollees are paying for when they sign up for health coverage, the agencies have not adequately adjusted the rules to make this a reality in practice:
However, your agencies have issued and enforced rules instructing insurers to collect only a single payment. As directed by your agencies, insurers covering elective abortions “must provide a notice to enrollees, only as part of the summary of benefits and coverage explanation, at the time of enrollment, of such coverage.”
The letter points out the lose-lose situation currently characterizing the ACA, calling the government’s continued refusal to comply with the law a “regime of secrecy”:
This regime of secrecy – especially in those states where there is no choice of a plan without elective abortion coverage – is particularly offensive because participation is enforced by the ACA’s individual mandate. Individuals and families are subject to substantial penalties if they fail to obtain insurance coverage mandated under the ACA… Due to ACA requirements for all insurance plans, the only plans many Americans can afford are those offered on ACA exchanges because of the tax subsidies they can receive there. Having forced consumers out of their chosen plans and into the exchanges, the Administration your agencies serve has a duty to at least ensure that enrollees have a free choice of plans on the exchanges and are fully informed about the plans they are purchasing.
In the meantime, Americans can find out whether their health plans include abortion coverage by visiting this website, created by the concerned organizations that drafted the letter. And it’s no surprise that, even for these professional organizations, obtaining the abortion coverage information needed to create the website was a “Herculean” task:
What [we] have discovered is that even for trained professionals who know exactly what information they are trying to find, it is a Herculean, and sometimes fruitless, task. In many states, plan documents with abortion coverage information were not available online. Customer service personnel for the exchanges and the insurance companies were routinely unable to answer whether a given plan included abortion coverage and frequently gave answers that later proved to be incorrect. In many cases these same personnel neglected or failed to return promised telephone calls, all while deadlines for the purchase of insurance were approaching and passing.
The need for transparency here is self-evident. Americans should not need the time and resources of multiple non-profit organizations dedicated to finding out, on their behalf, what they are paying for when they submit their monthly insurance premiums. Continue to monitor Live Action News and Alliance Defending Freedom for updates as they become available.