The health-care overhaul bill has produced a number of unexpected outcomes, or at least unexpected as measured by the public statements of its advocates. It’s more expensive than advertised, increases taxes, and will push employers into dumping health insurance coverage despite the promises of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. But the strangest consequence may be the ability of pro-life activists to limit or eliminate private-insurance coverage for abortions in state exchanges:
Abortion opponents fought passage of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul to the bitter end, and now that it’s the law, they’re using it to limit coverage by private insurers.
An obscure part of the law allows states to restrict abortion coverage by private plans operating in new insurance markets. Capitalizing on that language, abortion foes have succeeded in passing bans that, in some cases, go beyond federal statutes.
“We don’t consider elective abortion to be health care, so we don’t think it’s a bad thing for fewer private insurance companies to cover it,” said Mary Harned, attorney for Americans United for Life, a national organization that wrote a model law for the states. …
Since Obama signed the legislation law March 23, Arizona and Tennessee have enacted laws restricting abortion coverage by health plans in new insurance markets, called exchanges. About 30 million people will get their coverage through exchanges, which open in 2014 to serve individuals and small businesses.
In Florida, Mississippi and Missouri, lawmakers have passed bans and sent them to their governors. Most of the states allow exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Insurers still could offer separate policies to specifically cover abortion.
Three other states may act this year — Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma. Overall, there are 29 states where lawmakers or public policy groups expressed serious interest, Harned said.
The irony drips from this situation. ObamaCare advocates have neatly created a technicality that will allow them to finally mandate federal subsidies for abortion whenever Congress fails to extend the Hyde Amendment, a rider that has been endorsed every year in the budget process to keep federal monies from paying for abortions. Six months after a failure to renew the Hyde Amendment, ObamaCare mandates federal subsidies for abortion coverage in the state exchanges. That failure will almost certainly come this year, especially since the Democratic majority has to realize that they only have one more opportunity to eliminate it before their upcoming midterm disaster.
That won’t help much, though, if the state exchanges bar any abortion coverage at all. ObamaCare leaves states in charge of the exchanges, a way to appease federalists who objected to several encroachments on state sovereignty, but that gave pro-life activists an opportunity to pre-empt Democrats on the Hyde Amendment. It also gives them a chance to expose their hypocrisy. If Democrats intended, as they insisted over the past year, to continue renewing the Hyde Amendment, these efforts wouldn’t have any effect at all on ObamaCare. It only matters on a federal level if Democrats were lying about their commitment to renewing the Hyde Amendment.
In any case, it’s yet another example of the poor writing and deliberation that went into creating and passing ObamaCare into law. This is one thing that will even surprise Pelosi after her admonition that Congress had to pass ObamaCare in order for the rest of us to find out what it contained. Call it karma or poetic justice, but Pelosi enabled this particular attack on the abortion industry herself.