The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) specifically allows states to prohibit providers that participate in the insurance marketplace from covering elective abortions. To assure that elective abortion is not included in the federal exchange in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth must affirmatively opt out by passing a state law. House Bill 818 – without amendments- will clearly prohibit the taxpayer supported insurance plans from covering elective abortions. HB 818 does not eliminate coverage of abortions in taxpayer supported plans in the cases of rape, incest or to avert the death of the mother.
Currently no tax dollars are used for elective abortions anywhere in Pennsylvania. Abortion coverage has long been prohibited in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program (except in cases of rape, incest or to avert the death of the mother). HB 818 would guarantee that the taxpayer supported plans in the federal government’s new health insurance marketplace are in line with this long-standing policy.
Without clear statutory prohibitions, public dollars could be spent on a program which includes elective abortion coverage. Proposed amendments are being discussed in the state Senate which, if approved, would seriously undermine the intent of HB 818. These weakening amendments must not be added to the bill. For this reason, the PA Catholic Conference reiterates that the only authentic prolife vote on House Bill 818 is one which passes the bill without any amendments.
Taxpayers strongly oppose abortion coverage in the health insurance exchanges. In the heat of the health care reform debate, CNN found that six in 10 Americans favor a ban on the use of federal funds for abortion (November 2009). Quinnipiac University found that 67% of Americans oppose allowing abortions to be paid for by public funds under a health care reform bill (January 2010).
Pennsylvania has a long pro-life tradition. If these polls were conducted here today, the numbers of taxpayers opposing abortion coverage would be even higher. Over thirty states have either passed, introduced or plan to introduce opt-out legislation. Those that have passed such legislation into law include Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
Voting “yes” on HB 818 without amendments is the only genuine pro-life vote.