Thursday, March 15, 2012

HHS issues new rule on Obamacare scheme to fund abortion insurance

Douglas Johnson and Susan T. Muskett of National Right to Life report:
The Obama Administration has taken another step in what amounts to a four-year plan to make abortion-covering health insurance, subsidized by the federal government, commonly available in the United States.

The latest action came on March 12, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a lengthy regulation that spells out how some of the components of the massive 2010 Obama health care law ("ObamaCare") will be implemented.

The new rule — consuming 644 pages, including HHS's commentary — is concerned mainly with the "exchanges," which are the government-operated health insurance markets that must be established in every state by January 1, 2014. While states may retain responsibility for administering the exchanges, they must do so according to the detailed blueprints provided in the federal law and in federal regulations, including the new rule.

One part of the ObamaCare law establishes a big new program to provide federal subsidies for tens of millions of American families whose household income is 400 percent or less of the federal poverty level ($92,000 for a family of four). (Only health plans that join the exchanges will be eligible to sign up federally subsidized clients, which provides a strong incentive for health plans to enlist in the exchanges.) These federal subsidies can be used to purchase health plans that cover all abortions. This is one of the abortion-expanding aspects of ObamaCare that caused NRLC to strongly oppose the legislation when it was under consideration in Congress in 2009 and 2010. ...

The new rule spells out some, but by no means all, of the details on how abortion coverage will be paid for in the developing exchange system. ...

Once a person is enrolled in an abortion-covering plan, he or she will be required to pay a defined monthly charge for the abortion coverage, dubbed the "abortion surcharge" by critics. This abortion surcharge is not optional — every enrollee in the plan must pay it, including families that have moral objections to abortion and/or that contain no females of reproductive age.

Some media stories have reported that the "abortion surcharge" will be $1 per month, but in fact, the law and rule say something quite different — they say that the surcharge must not be "less than one dollar per enrollee, per month." The surcharge could be a good deal more than $1, depending on how many abortions are paid for and how much they cost.

Neither the law nor the rule contain any limitations on reasons for which abortions are sought or how late in pregnancy they occur.

HHS has so far avoided spelling out in any detail how the abortion surcharge payments will be made. From the pro-life perspective, the exact method of collecting the payments is not very important. The most important fact is that the federal government will be helping tens of millions of Americans purchase exchange-participating health plans, many of which will cover abortion on demand. When the government pays for health insurance, it pays for what the insurance pays for. The abortion surcharge is merely a bookkeeping device that is intended to obscure the reality that the federal government will be purchasing abortion-on-demand insurance — which is a sharp departure from decades of previous federal policy under the Hyde Amendment, the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, and other federal programs.
Please read the rest.