Monday, November 9, 2009

Restrictive abortion language included in House-passed bill (H.R. 3962)

Many employer plans eventually would be compelled to restrict abortion coverage because of an amendment included in the House-passed health reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962).

The House passed the bill by a vote of 220 to 215 on Saturday November 7. Consideration of health care refrom now moves to the Senate, which is in the process of merging two competing committee bills. (Lots of potential obstacles loom on the Senate side: see here, here, and here.)

Existing federal policy, known as the Hyde Amendment, bars federal funding for abortion and must be approved annually by Congress. The House amendment, proposed by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), prohibits the use of federal funding for abortion under the public health insurance option and prohibits the use of federal affordability credits to purchase a health insurance policy that covers abortion. The Stupak amendment would not require annual approval. Abortion funding would be allowed in cases of rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger.

Thus, under H.R. 3962, individuals eligible for affordability credits to help in the purchase of health insurance could not use those credits for coverage under an employer-based plan that included abortion coverage. Under the House bill, plans could offer separate supplemental coverage that included services for abortion.


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