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Obamacare $1 Abortion Payment Surcharge Upsets Pro-Lifers

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 3/14/12 11:56 AM

National

Leading pro-life organizations are upset by the news that the Obama administration has issued the final rules on abortion funding governing the controversial health care law allowing for a $1 abortion insurance payment surcharge.

As LifeNews initially reported, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a final rule regarding establishment of the state health care exchanges required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

As a knowledgeable pro-life source on Capitol Hill informed LifeNews, as authorized by Obamacare, “The final rule provides for taxpayer funding of insurance coverage that includes elective abortion” and the change to longstanding law prohibiting virtually all direct taxpayer funding of abortions (the Hyde Amendment) is accomplished through an accounting arrangement described in the Affordable Care Act and reiterated in the final rule issued today.

“To comply with the accounting requirement, plans will collect a $1 abortion surcharge from each premium payer,” the pro-life source informed LifeNews. “The enrollee will make two payments, $1 per month for abortion and another payment for the rest of the services covered. As described in the rule, the surcharge can only be disclosed to the enrollee at the time of enrollment.  Furthermore, insurance plans may only advertise the total cost of the premiums without disclosing that enrollees will be charged a $1 per month fee to pay directly subsidize abortions.”

Tony Perkins of the Family research Council was quite upset by the news.

“The day that Bart Stupak said would never come is here. Almost two years after the former congressman agreed to an executive order “banning” abortion funding in ObamaCare, the President finally proved how useless it was. For all the time spent trying to shield taxpayers from any involvement in the abortion business, the executive order dissolved this week into what it always was: a meaningless piece of White House letterhead,” he said. “As part of the new regulations on how state health exchanges will work, anyone enrolled in an insurance plan that covers abortion will be responsible for sharing the cost.”

He pointed out how HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained this way back in 2009. “[W]hether you’re male or female, whether you’re 75 or 25, you would all set aside a portion of your premium that would go into a fund, and it would not be earmarked for anything, it would be a separate [abortion] account that everyone in the exchange would pay… It is a bit confusing, but it’s really an accounting that would apply across the board and not just to women, and certainly not just to women who want to choose abortion coverage.”

“For all intents and purposes, this is just another mandate on abortion, which, like its contraception counterpart, makes no exemptions for people with moral objections. Despite the accounting gimmicks, taxpayers will still have to reach into their own pockets and fund the procedure,” Perkins continued.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation also complained about the new rules.

“The rule provides for taxpayer funding of insurance plans that include elective abortion.  This departure from the longstanding policy is accomplished through an accounting arrangement described in the Affordable Care Act and reiterated in the final rule,” the pro-life legal group said.

LLDF continued:  “To comply with the accounting requirement, plans collect a $1 abortion surcharge from each premium payer.  The enrollee will make two payments, $1 per month for abortion and another payment for the rest of the services covered.  As described in the rule, the surcharge can only be disclosed to the enrollee at the time of enrollment.  Furthermore, insurance plans may only advertise the total cost of the premiums without disclosing that enrollees will be charged a $1 per month to directly subsidize abortions.”

“The final rule mentions, but does not address concerns about abortion coverage in “multi-state” plans administered by the Federal Government’s Office of Personal Management (OPM).  There is nothing in the Affordable Care Act to prevent some OPM (government administered) plans from covering elective abortion, and questions remain about whether OPM multi-state plans will include elective abortion.  If such plans do include abortion, there are concerns that the abortion coverage will even be offered in states that have prohibited abortion coverage in their state exchanges. The final rule indicates that specific standards for multi-state plans will be forthcoming in future rules from OPM,” LLDF said.

The group concluded:  “The final rule extinguishes the hope that the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would respect the rights of the unborn and the religious liberty of pro-life citizens who have conscientious objections to their tax dollars being used to fund abortion.”

The pro-life women’s group Feminists for Life also complained about the $1 abortion surcharge.

“The President’s promise to women and children has been broken,” said FFL President Serrin Foster.  “This is most disappointing because it affects those most vulnerable–the poor and working poor, young working women who are otherwise uninsured, and students who are not on their parents plan, and who now be forced to pay $1 for an abortion surcharge through the exchange. A dollar is a dollar too much for abortion. Abortion does nothing to address the unmet needs of women.”

“If abortion was such a great thing, why keep this coverage such a secret?” Foster asked.

Nestled within the “individual mandate” in the Obamacare act — that portion of the Act requiring every American to purchase government — approved insurance or pay a penalty — is an “abortion premium mandate.” This mandate requires all persons enrolled in insurance plans that include elective abortion coverage to pay a separate premium from their own pockets to fund abortion.  As a result, many pro-life Americans will have to decide between a plan that violates their consciences by funding abortion, or a plan that may not meet their health needs.

As LifeNews reported, the final HHS rule mentions, but does not address concerns about abortion coverage in “multi-state” plans administered by the Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

“There is nothing in the Affordable Care Act to prevent some OPM (government administered) plans from covering elective abortion, and questions remain about whether OPM multi-state plans will include elective abortion,” a pro-life source on Capital Hill said. “If such plans do include abortion, there are concerns that the abortion coverage will even be offered in states that have prohibited abortion coverage in their state exchanges.”

The final rule indicates: “Specific standards for multi-state plans will be described in future rulemaking published by OPM…”

Set to go into effect in 2014, the unconstitutional provisions found in Section 1303 of the Obamacare Act compel enrollees in certain health plans to pay a separate abortion premium from their own pocket, without the ability to decline abortion coverage based on religious or moral objection.

That provision was the subject of a legal document that Bioethics Defense Fund’s Dorinda C. Bordlee, lead counsel for the group, submitted to the Supreme Court in February.

“This violates the Free Exercise Clause because religious exemptions are made for groups such as the Amish who morally object to purchasing any insurance, but no exemptions are made for Americans who have religious or moral objections to abortion,” Bordlee said.

“President Obama’s healthcare overhaul includes an ‘abortion premium mandate’ that blatantly violates the conscience rights and First Amendment religious rights of millions of Americans,” AUL president Charmaine Yoest said. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it require Americans to violate their beliefs and pay for abortions.”

ADF Senior Counsel Steven Aden says Americans should not be compelled to pay for other people’s elective abortions.

“No one should be forced to violate their conscience by paying for abortions, but that’s precisely what ObamaCare does,” he explained. “ObamaCare requires that employees enrolled in certain health plans pay a separate insurance premium specifically to pay for other people’s elective abortions and offers no opt-out for religious or moral reasons. Such a mandate cannot survive constitutional scrutiny.”

BDF president and general counsel Nikolas Nikas said the individual mandate not only forces individuals into private purchases, it also effectively mandates personal payments for surgical abortion coverage, without exemption for an individual’s religious or moral objections.

He told LifeNews in an email, “Like a Russian nesting doll, the individual mandate has nestled within it a hidden, but equally unconstitutional scheme that effectively imposes an ‘abortion premium mandate’ that violates the free exercise rights of millions of Americans who have religious objections to abortion.”