This week, rather than working on a solution to the government shutdown and looming debt ceiling crisis, House Republicans proposed a measure that requires any health insurance plan offered through Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance exchanges to disclose whether it provides abortion coverage.
According to Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), HR 3279, the Abortion Insurance Disclosure Act, is necessary because a surcharge for abortion coverage will be hidden in the fine print of many plans. “Americans have a right to know upfront and with full transparency when they are purchasing a plan that subsidizes the killing of unborn children,” he said. “Even the most ardent advocate of abortion should embrace full disclosure.”
Smith, a co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, repeated claims by anti-choice advocates that Obamacare appears to be subsidizing health plans that offer abortion coverage. Under the proposal, any abortion coverage provided by any health plan through ACA insurance exchanges would have to be “disclosed to enrollees at the time of enrollment in the plan and shall be prominently displayed in any marketing or advertising materials.”
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Proposing disclosure of abortion insurance coverage while simultaneously arguing to defund the federal health-care law altogether could signal House Republicans know their defunding mission is failing.
The bill has only one Democratic sponsor, Rep. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois. Lipinski co-chairs the Pro-Life Caucus with Smith and argues that Obamacare amounts to taxpayer funding for abortion. “There is a longstanding principle in our country that the federal government does not subsidize abortions,” he said. “Yet under Obamacare, taxpayer money under the guise of federal subsidies will be paying for insurance that covers elective abortion. This needs to stop.”
Currently, 23 states have laws that prohibit insurance plans on state exchanges from providing coverage for abortion services. Eight of those states—Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah—passed comprehensive abortion coverage bans restricting coverage offered through, and outside of, the exchanges.