from the inbox:
The House Health Committee voted today to eliminate insurance coverage of abortion in the new Health Care Exchange. In a dramatic change in the status quo and intrusion into the free market, House Bill 818 passed out of the committee by a vote of 15 to 10. HB 818 is now headed for a full floor vote on Wednesday of this week. Its companion bill, Senate Bill 3, passed out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee with identical language last week and is also poised for a full floor vote.
Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates commented on today’s committee vote, “During the 2012 elections, voters made it clear they were fed up with the attacks on reproductive health issues. Yet here we are again with restrictions to safe, legal abortion and limiting women’s health care options back on the agenda as a top priority for the Pennsylvania legislature.”
Today, 80% of private insurance plans cover abortion. Existing federal law requires individuals to provide an entirely separate payment for insurance coverage of abortion. If HB 818 becomes law, no private insurance plan contracting with the new Health Care Exchange set up by the Affordable Care Act will have the option of offering abortion coverage outside of cases of rape and incest that have been personally reported or the impending death of the woman.
“Even more shocking is that this bill is so ideological and blind-sighted as to refuse to give women with serious health problems like cancer any consideration,” Stevens continued. The House Health Committee voted on an amendment that would add a health exception to the ban, but the measure failed by a vote of 14 to 10. Thus, if the bill becomes law as is, even in tragic cases where the woman’s health is in serious jeopardy, the cost of a necessary abortion – which often takes place in a hospital – would be paid for entirely by the family. “An overwhelming 79% of Pennsylvania voters support insurance coverage of abortion to protect a woman’s health. Failing to provide for this exception is not only bad policy, it’s in stark contrast to public opinion, and I would urge all Representatives to remember this and consider adding a health amendment when they vote on Wednesday,” said Stevens.
Stevens continued, “Imagine a woman who owns her own business, who chooses to buy her insurance on the Exchange, who pays her premiums every month and during a much anticipated and desired pregnancy develops cancer. The Health Committee has decided to tell her that she’s out of luck and has to foot the bill herself. That is beyond cruel. The voters are fed up with the divisive social agenda of this legislature and with elections around the corner again, it’s a surprisingly risky and heartless move.”