Washington D.C., Nov 24, 2014 / 10:47 am
A new website informing Americans whether or not their health plans cover abortion is up and running, with advocates saying it provides the transparency in the health care law that the government failed to deliver.
The website ObamacareAbortion.com seeks to "inform Americans about abortion coverage in Obamacare plans and expose the great difficulty in obtaining this information," the Family Research Council's Arina Grossu stated at a Nov 20 Capitol Hill press conference.
Current U.S. laws such as the Hyde Amendment prevent the federal funding of abortion for many government programs. However, the amendment does not apply to the Affordable Care Act, which has its own sources of funding, rather than seeking funding through the annual appropriations bills.
Debates over abortion funding in the 2010 health care law threatened to prevent its passage, as a group of pro-life Democrats said they would only support the legislation if abortion funding were excluded.
In response, President Obama promised an executive order to ban this funding. At the time, numerous pro-life groups warned that the order was legally unenforceable and would have no actual impact on the legislation.
But a September report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office – an independent government watchdog – found that the executive order had not been followed, and federal subsidies were funding abortions in more than 1,000 health plans across the country.
The report found that in five separate states, all of the plans that were offered on the health care insurance exchanges covered abortion. In addition, the stipulation that abortion coverage be funded through a separate surcharge was not followed by many health issuers.
Genevieve Plaster of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said that of the 5.4 million who purchased health insurance on the exchanges in 2014, 87 percent used federal subsidies to pay for their coverage. Many of these health plans covered abortions, she added.
The website was created as a response to this problem, the joint project of the Family Research Council and the Charlotte Lozier Institute. It attempts to inform customers whether or not their health plan on the exchanges for 2015 covers abortion.
Some things have changed already for the 2015 year. Plaster noted that one insurance company has already "changed over all of its individual exchange plans to now cover elective abortion."
"When it comes to public funding for abortion, the new 2015 Open Enrollment is at least as bad – and probably worse – than last year," Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) stated at the press conference.
According to Grossu, for 2015 "most likely" all the health plans cover abortions in four separate states – Hawaii, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Vermont – and in five others almost all of the plans will "most likely" cover abortions.
Information on abortion coverage on the health exchanges was very hard to come by, Plaster added.
"Most summaries of benefits and coverage," she noted, "were completely silent on abortion coverage."
"I was referred back and forth on phone calls within insurance departments and between companies and the exchanges themselves, sometimes to no avail," she said. "The current administration and Department of Health and Human Services seem to have made no effort to enforce transparency in the exchanges and with health insurance carriers about abortions," she concluded."