On Monday, December 22, Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) joined with Family Research Council (FRC) as cosignatories on comments filed by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) regarding new federal rules from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Personnel Management on transparency in health insurance coverage of abortion. The comment covers two separate rulemakings, one of which concerns the general use of federal tax subsidies to purchase health insurance plans on the federal and state insurance exchanges, and another which addresses transparency with respect to certain multi-state plans (MSPs) managed by OPM under the Affordable Care Act.
The comment criticizes the HHS and OPM proposals as falling well short of what is needed to provide individuals and families with clear notice regarding potential coverage of elective abortion and the required payment of separate premiums in the form of an elective abortion surcharge. As the comment states:
“If Americans are to be forced off their existing, chosen insurance plans and into the ACA insurance exchanges regulated by your agencies, they should at least be entitled to full disclosure of the contents of the plans on those exchanges and what they are paying for. Unfortunately, the proposed rules do not protect consumers, and in fact may continue to mislead them into enrolling in abortion-including plans and paying for others’ abortions in violation of their conscience.
“Whatever one’s views of abortion,” the comment continues, “the current exchanges and plans regulated by your agencies do not protect any ‘right to choose’ abortion coverage. In fact, they leave many Americans without a choice that fits both their health needs and respects their right of conscience. They deceive and compel Americans to pay for others’ elective abortions. This is unconscionable and within your power to correct.”
Since mid-November, when open enrollment began in the second year of operation of the health care exchanges, CLI and FRC have managed a web site at ObamacareAbortion.com designed to give health insurance buyers information on elective abortion coverage that federal and state governments have obscured from view. CLI and FRC have also underscored how, in at least three and possibly four states, the ACA and its implementation have resulted in the absence from the exchanges of any insurance plans that do not cover elective abortion. The organizations have encouraged all Americans seeking insurance via the exchanges to visit ObamacareAbortion.com to ascertain the nature of abortion coverage before making an irrevocable purchasing decision for the year.
The full text of the comment filed on December 21 is here.
Note: Today the federal Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury issued a new proposed rule that addresses with more specificity the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in insurance plans Statement of Benefits and Coverages. The new rule would apply to insurance plans offered on the exchange in the fall of 2015 for the 2016 plan year. The new rule does not appear to represent progress on the issue of disclosure of the abortion surcharge. Further comment on today’s development will appear on this web site after our review of the new rule is complete. Purchasers of exchange-based insurance plans for 2015 should continue to consult ObamacareAbortion.com for current information on elective abortion coverage.
Chuck Donovan is president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.