100 United States representatives along with 25 United States Senators have signed onto a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), urging them to support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Exchange Program Integrity. The letter, signed by the members of Congress urges HHS to act quickly on the proposed rule before November of this year, when open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) officially begins.
The proposed rule would ensure that the ACA plans that do cover abortions are required to keep the money for the cost of the abortion separate from the money from the fee to have abortions covered by the plan. The separate bank accounts with money from abortions is required by law, but under Obamacare, the fee for the entire plan – including the cost of abortion coverage – was collected all at one time and placed together in one account. This basically meant that all enrolled individuals’ money was going towards covering abortion, whether or not they had that option included in their plan or not.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Exchange Program Integrity would ensure that ACA plans that cover elective abortion collect the fees to pay for the abortions separately from the fee for the plan, and keep the abortion fee in a separate account intended only to be used to pay for abortions. This is required in the law, according to section 1303.
However, according to Senator Hyde-Smith’s letter to the HHS from the members of Congress, under the Obama administration, the fee for the entire plan, including the abortion coverage, was collected at one time and kept in one account. This essentially created a fungible account to pay for abortions with money from all enrollees, rather than only those who opt to pay for it. Separating the two also creates a distinction between health care coverage and abortion coverage.
The lack of distinct separation between funds and accounts is a clear violation of the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment—the appropriations legislation first introduced in 1976 by Rep. Henry Hyde — bars federal funding for elective abortions through Medicaid. The amendment has saved over two million preborn children and celebrated its 40th anniversary on September 30, 2016. Prior to the enactment of Hyde, the Medicaid program paid for roughly 300,000 abortions annually.
“There is an urgency to ensure people are not unknowingly supporting abortions if they’re enrolled in ACA health plans. The Obama administration strayed far from the law by allowing hidden abortion surcharges on people who would never condone their hard-earned money going to support abortions,” said Hyde-Smith in a statement. “The regulations need to be corrected as soon as possible.”
“Obamacare was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand since Roe,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, in a media release. “The Obama administration then wrongly reinterpreted its own law to allow insurers to ignore the plain language of the law requiring an abortion surcharge to be collected separately. The sooner the rule restoring the original intent of the law is finalized, the fewer excuses insurers will have for noncompliance.”
Correcting this violation of the Hyde Amendment needs to be made a priority by HHS to ensure that pro life taxpayers are not unwittingly paying for abortions. In addition, Congress should make it a goal to redirect all federal taxpayer dollars away from covering for the cost of abortions and instead support pro life pregnancy resource centers that actually care about the health of women and their children.