Nebraska Lawmakers Seek to Deny Private Insurance Coverage of Abortion Care

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Nebraska Lawmakers Seek to Deny Private Insurance Coverage of Abortion Care

Amie Newman

A Nebraska legislator is hoping to make it illegal for private insurance companies to offer coverage of abortion to the women of his state.

Nebraska State Senator Beau McCoy wants to make it illegal for private health insurance providers to offer plans regulated by the state to pay for (legal) abortion care. Under the Nelson Amendment in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, this type of legislation is becoming more common on a state-by-state basis. McCoy is clearly emboldened by a rash of anti-choice bills he’s sponsored from prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks to requiring a government-sanctioned abortion “screening” (which passed only to be blocked by a federal judge) in his ongoing battle against women and families.

McCoy is proposing a law which would not only block insurance coverage of abortion in plans sold under Nebraska’s yet-to-be created state health exchange but also block private insurance companies from providing abortion coverage, outside of the state exchanges. The only exception? When a woman’s life is endangered by the pregnancy. His colleague, Senator Annette Dubas, has proposed a simliar bill which would prevent insurance coverage of legal abortion within the state insurance exchange plans only. She’s also said there will be an exception for a woman’s life.

Am I misunderstanding something? How does a woman (and her family) purchase insurance coverage criminalized under state law in advance of her life being endangered by the pregnancy?

According to the Omaha World-Herald,

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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“Nebraskans who find abortion morally reprehensible should not be forced to pay for abortions through their insurance premiums,” McCoy said.

Under this reasoning, when a vegetarian visits a grocery store to purchase vegetables, it’s “morally reprehensible” that they are giving money to a store that also sells meat. Why not pass a law barring grocery stores from selling meat? Why not pass a law which allows Americans to opt-out of “being forced” to pay taxes to a government that provides tax breaks to Catholic Churches which help advocate for legislation which stomps on many other Americans’ rights? Why not opt-out of paying taxes which go towards paying for wars with which many disagree? Is this really the way McCoy thinks our country functions best?

McCoy’s bill would only apply to those insurance plans regulated by the state, not “self-insured group plans,” notes the Omaha World-Herald.

Currently, under the health reform law, health plans available through the insurance exchange could include abortion coverage.

However, as Jodi Jacobson writes in a through run-down of the Nelson Amendment’s “Dos and Don’ts,” policy holders who participate in the health care exhanges must send “separate checks” if they want supplemental abortion coverage so as not to, essentially, “taint” the pool of insurance-holder purity.

Unfortunately, according to the Omaha World-Herald, “…few [Nebraska insurance] companies offer such coverage.”

And Kyle Carlson, legal director for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, says that if a private insurance company chooses to offer abortion coverage, the state should not stand in the way.

“What this policy does is inherently unfair,” he said, because it means women who need subsidized health insurance could not get abortion coverage.”

If Nebraska State Sen. Beau McCoy gets his wish, Nebraska women will have almost no access to their constitutional right to access legal abortion care.