The Baucus health bill maintains federal restrictions on abortion funding by preventing federal money from funding any abortions beyond reasons of life-endangerment, rape or incest. Under the mark, women wouldn’t be able to use subsidy dollars for the procedure and would finance the operation only with private premiums.
This morning, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced amendment Hatch C14, requiring that “no funds authorized or appropriated under this Mark may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.” Under Hatch’s amendment, women who purchase comprehensive private insurance packages — that include abortion services — would have to pay for the entire cost of the package (even if they qualify for subsidies) and obtain a separate rider for abortion coverage.
Responding to Hatch’s amendment, which ultimately failed in a vote of 10–13, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said, “with all respect to my friend, as a woman, I find it offensive”:
In fact, with all respect to my friend, as a woman, I find it offensive that in here — any woman, any family purchasing through the exchange, if they did not receive any tax credit, would be prohibited from having the full range of health care options that they may need covered….This is an unprecedented restriction on people who paid for their own health care insurance…the assumption that somehow a woman or family would say, ‘you know some did we may have an unintended pregnancy, so we’ll get a separate rider or maybe my pregnancy is going to have a crisis, many, many crises, and so we’re going to find some other rider.’ In my judgment, I don’t even know how that would work.
Stabenow explained that Hatch’s ‘extreme’ amendment would drastically change existing law and levy an undue burden on women who want access to abortion services. Watch it:
While the Baucus amendment establishes a firewall between public dollars and private dollars for abortion services, some advocates believe that the existing language would jeopardize the abortion coverage for women moving from employer sponsored plans (the majority of which cover abortion services) to insurance within the Exchange. They point to present federal policy which subsidizes employer-sponsored plans without restricting abortion coverage.
The mark requires each state-based exchange to contain at least one plan that does not cover abortion and a separate policy that does.