By Tori Richards | Watchdog.org
Insurance companies working under the Obamacare umbrella have secretly added a surcharge to cover the cost of abortions, an apparent violation of federal law that forbids the practice, congressional leaders charge.
Consumers signing up for insurance in an Obamacare exchange won’t find a single sentence telling them that they will pay at least $1 a month to fund abortions.
“The president promised when the health care bill passed that it would not cover abortion. We knew that was an empty promise as the bill stipulated a $1 a month surcharge for plans that covered abortions,” said Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., who chairs the House’s Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health. “On top of that … it’s near impossible to decipher which plans include abortion and at what cost!”
To fix this, a House bill will be introduced this week to demand full disclosure and a separate itemized premium. It also will prohibit federal subsidies for Obamacare insurance plans that cover abortion. That bill, HR-7, or the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” will be introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
On Oct. 9, Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, introduced a bill on the disclosure issue, which now has been folded into the broader HR-7. Smith is co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.
Aides with both Pitts and Smith have researched numerous Obamacare policies and have yet to find any mention of abortion.
“We can’t find any insurance plans where this is disclosed,” said Andrew Wimer, communications director for Pitts.
The Affordable Care Act’s section on abortion, 18023(E)(3)(A), mandates that insurance companies “shall provide a notice to enrollees, only as part of the summary of benefits and coverage explanation, at the time of enrollment, of such coverage.”
Subsection (B) authorizes a “collect from each enrollee in the plan a separate payment” for abortion services in order to “deposit all such separate payments into separate allocation accounts.”
“Obamacare regulations allow insurers to disclose the existence and amount of the abortion surcharge only at the time of enrollment — a warning that may constitute but a single sentence in a massive plan document,” the Heritage Foundation wrote in a report titled, “Obamacare’s Many Loopholes: Forcing Individuals and Taxpayers to Fund Elective Abortion Coverage.”
Smith has discovered that the states of Maryland, New York and Washington have flouted the law by telling insurance companies they don’t need to itemize the charge for consumers.
“Between the failure to disclose abortion coverage at the outset and the failure to bill the surcharge separately, the consumer is left in the day, unknowingly paying into an abortion fund,” Smith said in a statement.
The ACA also is supposed to give consumers a choice of plans if they opt out of abortion coverage. But research by Smith’s office has revealed that finding an abortion-free plan will be difficult. For example, of the 31 plans in New Jersey offered by three insurance companies, all of them include abortion coverage.
“It does not surprise me because the Obama administration has shown a pattern of retroactive line-item veto and he thinks he can rewrite any law with impunity,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee. “Chris Smith tried to survey plans to find out which ones covered abortion and what they found a few weeks back was of 112 plans, 103 cover abortions.
Insurance companies “are violating the law every day that they do this,” Johnson said.
Contact Tori Richards at tori@firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @newswriter2.