The Trump administration has issued a proposed rule change to enforce existing regulations regarding taxpayer dollars used under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. ObamaCare. This is meant to remedy the fact that, as SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser stated, “The Obama administration… allow[ed] insurers to ignore the plain language of the law that said an abortion surcharge had to be collected separately,” allowing insurers to collect the “separate” abortion surcharge “along with regular premiums, effectively defining ‘separate’ to mean ‘together.’”
“Thanks to this trickery,” Dannenfelser adds, “millions of Americans have unwittingly purchased plans without knowing about the hidden abortion surcharge…. Consumers deserve to know how Obamacare pays for abortion so they can avoid having their hard-earned dollars used to fund the destruction of innocent lives.”
ModernHealthcare.com admits as much, writing, “The Obama administration in 2016 provided guidance that allowed insurers to include the surcharge with premiums rather than charge beneficiaries separate amounts,” adding that the rule change now makes it so that “individual market exchange issuers must determine the amount of, and collect, from each enrollee, a ‘separate payment’ for an amount equal to the actuarial value of the coverage for abortions for which public funding is prohibited, which must be no less than $1 per enrollee per month.”
The abortion industry has attempted to spin the news, claiming the Trump Administration has unveiled a “Secret Abortion Plan” to, as Planned Parenthood claimed, “Make it nearly impossible for health insurance plans in the Affordable Care Act to cover abortion.” The group’s reaction is unsurprising, given that earlier in the year, it released a plan of its own that called for massive expansion of abortion.
The rule would make certain that consumers have real choice and full knowledge about their plans, and aren’t forced to pay for abortion coverage if they don’t want to.
“The rule is likely to provoke a clash with states such as California and Oregon, which obligate all insurers to cover abortions,” notes the Washington Examiner, and “is likely to receive backlash from Democrats, who refused to support a bill to shore up Obamacare earlier this year because it contained language that would have restricted the funding from going toward paying for medical plans that provide abortions.”
According to a October 2017 bulletin, issued by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), section 1303 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) prohibits the use of certain federal funds to pay for coverage of abortions not permitted under the Hyde Amendment, a federal law prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion except for certain exceptions like rape or life of the mother. Live Action News has previously documented that more than half of abortions in Medicaid-coverage states are taxpayer funded.
A 2014 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report identified several instances where qualified health plans (QHPs) were in violation of section 1303.
An analysis of ACA Health Care plans conducted by the Family Research Council (FRC) and Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) noted, “The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 1,036 of Obamacare plans sold in 2014 included abortion on demand.”
The analysis also found that “For 2014… none of the entities interviewed that billed insurance… either itemized abortion on the premium bill or issued a separate bill that clearly named its purpose for abortion.”
A statement released by CMS indicates that the proposal would require a separate billing structure to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately, noting: “… [T]o better align federal regulations with statutory requirements and congressional intent, the rule proposes that issuers must send a separate bill and collect separate payments for the portion of the consumer’s premium attributable to certain abortion services for which public funding is prohibited.”
According to the SBA List, “In 2018, taxpayer-funded Obamacare insurance plans in 24 states and the District of Columbia are allowed to cover elective abortion with an embedded abortion surcharge. In 10 of those states more than 85 percent of Obamacare plans cover abortion on demand, including seven states where every single Obamacare plan for individuals and families covers elective abortion.”
CLI and FRC found that in 2018, “Through their federal taxes, people who live in states where plans do not cover abortion are still subsidizing abortion on demand in plans in other states….” The group published the website “Abortion in Obamacare” to ensure that pro-life individuals “do not unwittingly select a health plan covering abortion and requiring an abortion payment.”
While Dannenfelser thanked President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar for enforcing the law and providing much-needed transparency about Obamacare’s abortion coverage, she urged for more changes, stating, “Congress must still act to eliminate abortion funding from Obamacare, but until then, the rule… is an important step in the right direction.”
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