The HHS’s four-year plan for abortion-covering health insurance

Douglas Johnson and Susan T. Muskett, J.D., of National Right to Life analyse the next step in the federal government’s plan to make the culture of death the mandated, all-encompassing rule of the land:

The Obama Administration has taken another step in what amounts to a four-year plan to make abortion-covering health insurance, subsidized by the federal government, commonly available in the United States.

The latest action came on March 12, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a lengthy regulation that spells out how some of the components of the massive 2010 Obama health care law (“ObamaCare”) will be implemented.

The new rule — consuming 644 pages, including HHS’s commentary — is concerned mainly with the “exchanges,” which are the government-operated health insurance markets that must be established in every state by January 1, 2014.  While states may retain responsibility for administering the exchanges, they must do so according to the detailed blueprints provided in the federal law and in federal regulations, including the new rule.

One part of the ObamaCare law establishes a big new program to provide federal subsidies for tens of millions of American families whose household income is 400 percent or less of the federal poverty level ($92,000 for a family of four).  (Only health plans that join the exchanges will be eligible to sign up federally subsidized clients, which provides a strong incentive for health plans to enlist in the exchanges.)  These federal subsidies can be used to purchase health plans that cover all abortions.  This is one of the abortion-expanding aspects of ObamaCare that caused NRLC to strongly oppose the legislation when it was under consideration in Congress in 2009 and 2010.

And how will it work?

Under the rule, a health plan that covers all abortions may participate in an exchange unless a state enacts a law that explicitly prohibits such coverage (known as an “opt out” law).  If a health plan covers abortion, the rule forbids the plan from calling attention to that fact in any of its advertising or explanatory materials.  The disclosure of abortion coverage can be provided “only as part of the summary of benefits and coverage explanation, at the time of enrollment.”   This provision seems designed for no other purpose than to ensure that many people who would not deliberately sign up for abortion-covering plans will do so inadvertently, because of the federally enforced gag rule.

Once a person is enrolled in an abortion-covering plan, he or she will be required to pay a defined monthly charge for the abortion coverage, dubbed the “abortion surcharge” by critics.  This abortion surcharge is not optional — every enrollee in the plan must pay it, including families that have moral objections to abortion and/or that contain no females of reproductive age.

Some media stories have reported that the “abortion surcharge” will be $1 per month, but in fact, the law and rule say something quite different — they say that the surcharge must not be “less than one dollar per enrollee, per month.”  The surcharge could be a good deal more than $1, depending on how many abortions are paid for and how much they cost.

Read the entire piece on the NRLC website.

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About Carl E. Olson 1200 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.