Nebraska Becomes Latest to Stop Abortion Funding in Obamacare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 12, 2011   |   3:10PM   |   Lincoln, NE

Nebraska has become the latest state to join several others in exercising its right to opt out of funding abortions under the Obamacare health care law that contains massive abortion funding loopholes.

The Nebraska legislature passed LB22, the “Mandate Opt-out and Insurance Clarification Act” to prohibit the use of federal subsidies for abortion coverage in the Nebraska Exchange, and to prohibit abortion coverage by insurance plans within the state of Nebraska.

Sen. Beau McCoy (District 39) introduced LB22, which is based on model language by Americans United for Life, in January to prohibit insurance plans that participate in the soon-to-be-implemented state insurance exchange from covering abortions. The bill also prohibits private insurance coverage of abortion except through a separate rider. Governor Heineman is expected to sign the bill into law.

“The federal government should not be forcing Americans to pay for abortions or abortion coverage,” said AUL president Charmaine Yoest. “During the health care debate we learned that more than 70 percent of Americans – pro-life and pro-abortion – do not want to see their tax dollars used to support abortions. This bill is a bipartisan effort to respect their wishes.”

Yoest commended the 35 Senators who voted in favor of the bill:  “Insurance plans should cover the medical care critically needed by Nebraska’s citizens.  Abortion, however, is not health care and should not be included in these plans at taxpayers’ expense.”

During prior debate on the bill, Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm attempted to add an amendment that would have required health insurance companies to offer riders providing coverage for abortions, but that was rejected on a 35-4 vote. Haar said his office could not find any insurance companies in Nebraska that offered such riders.

Julie Schmit-Albin of Nebraska Right to Life applauded the vote as well in comments to  “The Nebraska Legislature has reflected the pro-life nature of the State in prohibiting funding of abortion through tax dollars via healthcare reform. Abortion is not healthcare and Nebraska is right to opt out of such funding. We appreciate Senator Beau McCoy sponsoring LB 22 and prioritizing it to ensure its timely passage.”

And McCoy told “Nebraska is a pro-life state and has prohibited the use of public funds from covering abortion for almost 30 years. I am pleased to offer legislation that honors this pro-life position by ensuring our taxpayer dollars will not be used to fund abortions.”

The Mandate Opt-Out and Insurance Clarification Act will also limit coverage of abortion in all private insurance plans sold in the state. Abortion coverage may only be purchased through an optional rider that is paid for solely by the insured.

Under the new health care law, states will be in charge of their own health care exchanges that are available for individuals and small businesses. States like Nebraska can approve  bills to keep any insurance plans in their state exchanges from offering abortion coverage. The exchange doesn’t go into effect until 2014 and states are filing lawsuits seeking to stop the pro-abortion health care bill in its other pro-abortion provisions entirety, but states are also moving now to exercise their right to opt out of some of the abortion funding.

When Congress passed the government-run health care bill, it did so without any limits on abortion funding and language mandating taxpayer financing of abortion in certain circumstances.

Obama eventually issued a controversial executive order supposedly taking the abortion funding issue off the table. However, virtually every pro-life group said it would not mitigate the abortion funding because it doesn’t have the effect of law, could be reversed in the future, and because it didn’t tackle much of the abortion funding in the bill. The Obama administration could also ignore the order and not put it in place when the health care law goes into effect.

Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Indiana and Louisiana have passed similar bills that have already been signed into law by governors in those states and several other states are expected to consider legislation in their upcoming legislative sessions. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation. Other states such as South Carolina are working on similar legislation as is Wisconsin.