Press inquiries and pressure from pro-life groups appear to have caused a federally funded New Mexico health insurance program to drop elective abortion from its list of covered procedures.
The New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool (NMNIP), an effort of the Obama Administration's recent health care overhaul, was the subject of media inquiry and intense criticism by pro-life groups as it previously covered elective abortions using federal funds.
The state's insurance pool program for high-risk patients is part of a $5 billion federal funding program set up under the Affordable Health Care Act that was signed into law last March.
On its website, NMNIP had previously linked to a document explaining the “Federal High Risk Pool Summary of Benefits.” On the second page, under the heading, “Covered Services,” elective abortion was listed.
The entry read: “Routine Maternity/Elective Termination of Pregnancy: Includes routing (sic) delivery, pre- and post-natal care, anesthesia, assistant and diagnostic tests.”
However, in a dramatic reversal this week, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Wednesday evening that the insurance program had dropped abortion coverage from the plan.
Michelle Lujan Grisham, deputy director of NMNIP, had initially told the AP that the state intended to follow through with the plan as it was. Yet Grisham called the AP back a short time later, saying, “We are in the process of correcting the package so it will not have elective abortion coverage.”
CNA also made inquiries into the situation, contacting the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in order to find out how New Mexico's program was consistent with the executive order President Obama signed in March to maintain the ban on federal funding of abortion.
Speaking to HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo, CNA was provided with an updated copy of the NMNIP plan, which no longer has elective abortion listed under covered services.
In its article, the AP offered an explanation for the plan's initial abortion coverage, writing that lawmakers had left it to “bureaucrats” at the HHS to write the rules for the $5 billion health care initiative.
In the “rush” to get the insurance pool programs for states up and running this summer, “many of the details,” specifically abortion coverage, “apparently were not made clear,” the AP said.
The apparent failure on the part of Obama Administration to rigorously enforce the president's executive order has been sharply criticized by some pro-life congressional leaders.
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader, issued a statement on Tuesday decrying the apparent lack of effort to implement the executive order in federal health care programs. “Just last month at the White House I asked President Obama to provide the American people with a progress report on the implementation of his Executive Order, which purports to ban taxpayer-funding of abortions,” Rep. Boehner said. “Unfortunately, the President provided no information, and the American people are still waiting for answers.”
The high-risk pool program in Pennsylvania has also recently come under fire for alleged abortion coverage and other states are feared to have similar language in their plans.