Mississippi To Strip Abortion Coverage From Health Insurance Exchange, Florida Not Far Behind

Following Arizona’s lead, Mississippi is moving to finalize legislation prohibiting insurers from offering abortion coverage in the exchange, even if it’s paid for with private dollars. The state legislature sent the bill to Gov. Haley Barbour (R) yesterday, after House leadership tabled a motion to re-consider.

In some ways, the Mississippi bill may be even more draconian than Arizona’s law. While women in Arizona would still be able to purchase an abortion waiver with private dollars in an exchange, women who want to buy abortion coverage in Mississippi that goes beyond the life of the woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, would be forced out of the exchange. From Senate Bill 3214:

SECTION 2. Legislative findings and purposes. (1) The Legislature of the State of Mississippi finds that Section 1303 of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states are explicitly permitted to pass laws prohibiting qualified health plans offered through an exchange in their state from offering abortion coverage.

(2) It is the purpose of this act to affirmatively opt out of allowing qualified health plans that cover abortions to participate in exchanges within the State of Mississippi.

SECTION 3. Opt-Out. (1) No abortion coverage may be provided by a qualified health plan offered through an exchange created pursuant to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act within the State of Mississippi.

Health reform has opened a Pandora’s box of state efforts to restrict abortion coverage by removing coverage from the exchange and placing other restrictions on abortion access. Most recently, the Oklahoma Senate overrode the governor’s veto to pass a law that requires “women seeking an abortion have a viewable ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus prior to the procedure.” “Though other states have passed similar measures requiring women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma’s law goes further, mandating that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims,” the New York Times observed.

Similarly, the Florida state senate just voted 22-17 “in favor of a new government mandate that women seeking abortions must pay for ultrasounds — which averages from $200 to $1,000 — and, in most cases, view live images of the fetus.” “They also adopted an amendment banning abortion coverage for individuals and businesses who buy insurance under insurance exchanges.” The bill is set for a final vote Thursday in the Senate and will then move to the “deeply conservative” House.

For more on this wave of new abortion restrictions, click here.