Wisconsin Hearing Covers Bill to Not Fund Abortion in Obamacare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2011   |   4:40PM   |   Madison, WI

Wisconsin lawmakers in the Senate Public Health Committee today held a hearing on legislation that would make it so the state opts out of the taxpayer funding of abortions found in the Obamacare legislation.

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.

The Obamacare legislation requires state health insurance exchanges created under the legislation to cover abortions, but the law allows states to opt out of requiring abortion coverage. The ban extends to the state exchanges the Obamacare legislation would set up because the funding for abortions would come at taxpayer expense through the exchanges, which would be funded with federal subsidies.

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. 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 moving now to exercise their right to opt out of some of the abortion funding.

Senator Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee) and Assembly Representative Robin Vos (R-Racine) put forward a bill that opts Wisconsin out of abortion coverage in the health care exchanges created by Obamacare.

During the hearing, Zipperer told legislators that Wisconsin would be following the lead of several other states that have passed similar legislation. So far, 12 states have approved legislation opting out of the Obamacare abortion funding, including Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation.

But Stacey Harbaugh with ACLU of Wisconsin testified against the bill, according to the Wisconsin Radio network saying the state is already cutting too much in the way of women’s health care.

State Representative Terese Berceau (D-Madison) also testified against the bill and said, “The exchange is part of a government program but the government is not funding the insurance policies.”

Wisconsin Right to Life strongly supports Senate Bill 92 and the organization’s Legislative Director, Susan Armacost, offered testimony at the hearing in support of the measure.

She said one of the provisions of the PPACA requires states to operate and maintain “health insurance exchanges.”  Qualified health insurance plans offering abortion coverage are allowed to participate in a state’s exchange and to receive federal subsidies unless the state legislature affirmatively opts-out of offering abortion coverage.

“Specific language in the PPACA permits a state to opt-out of allowing insurance plans that cover abortions to participate in that state’s exchanges,” she said. “Senate Bill 92 clarifies that a qualified health plan as defined in the federal law that is offered through any exchange operating in the State of Wisconsin may not cover any abortion whose performance is ineligible for funding under Wisconsin’s current funding law, s. 20.927.”

“The citizens of Wisconsin must not be placed in the position of subsidizing abortion coverage in the health care exchanges mandated by PPACA,” said Armacost.  “The state can take preventative action in this regard now by enacting Senate Bill 92.”