By Susan T. Muskett, J.D., Senior Legislative Counsel
On Wednesday of this week, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced the Senate version of the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act. S. 1848 is the Senate companion to the bill introduced in the House by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), H.R. 3279. The National Right to Life Committee strongly supports this legislation.
The Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act would require every health plan offered on an ObamaCare insurance exchange to disclose any coverage of abortion in the plan’s marketing and advertising materials. It also requires insurers to disclose the cost of the “abortion surcharge,” which is the defined monthly charge for elective abortion coverage that every enrollee in an abortion-covering Exchange plan must pay. This abortion surcharge is not optional – every enrollee in the plan must pay it, including families that have moral objections to abortion and/or that contain no females of reproductive age.
Many consumers are having great difficulty determining which plans cover abortion on the ObamaCare Exchanges. And even after they enroll, many likely won’t even know they are paying for abortion coverage. That would not be the case if the ObamaCare statute was being enforced as written. That’s because ObamaCare requires that Exchange plans that cover abortion must collect a separate payment from enrollees for the abortion coverage and deposit it into a separate account to be used to pay for elective abortions. The plan must also collect a second separate payment for all other services. Federal premium subsidies and cost-sharing would not be placed in the abortion account. This was a key part of the “deal” on ObamaCare that former Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska negotiated when Senate Majority Leader Reid badly needed his vote for Senate passage of ObamaCare back in December 2009.
By paying a separate payment for the abortion services, enrollees would become aware of the plan’s abortion coverage, as well as the abortion surcharge. But now the Obama Administration is flouting the two payments statutory requirement. By flouting this statutory requirement, but continuing to segregate premium money into a special fund designated for elective abortions, many enrollees likely won’t even know they are paying for abortion coverage; the “abortion surcharge” becomes a hidden fee for which the enrollee is unawares; and the cost of the abortion surcharge remains hidden. For more information on this, see “Bait-and-Switch: The Obama Administration’s Flouting of Key Part of Nelson ‘Deal’ on ObamaCare.”
Currently, 18 senators have cosponsored S. 1848: John Barrasso (R-WY), John Boozman (R-AR), Richard Burr (R-NC), Dan Coats (R-IN), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), James Risch (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Thune (R-SD), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
In introducing the legislation, Sen. Roberts said, “Americans have a right to know if a plan they are purchasing covers abortion. Millions of pro-life Americans oppose the use of their money to cover abortion services . . . We need transparency. Consumers have a right to know what these fees are paying for so that they can choose an insurance plan that meets their needs and is in line with their beliefs and values.”