- The Washington Times - Monday, July 19, 2010

Your Wednesday editorial “Obamacare abortions on tap,” has it wrong.

Pennsylvania will - and always has intended to - comply with the federal ban on abortion funding in the coverage provided through our federally funded high-risk pool. This program will provide much-needed assistance for the sickest of the sick. The likelihood that any of those covered will seek abortion services is remote, but if they do need such services, they will have to pay for them out their own pockets.

Our pending contract with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) makes it crystal clear that we will “operate the Program in compliance with federal law and the forthcoming final federal regulations.” This has always meant that the existing federal ban on abortion funding would be followed, which permits abortion services in the instance of rape, incest or endangering the mother.

Pennsylvania’s position is not a statement about the broader abortion debate. It simply recognizes that health care reform, particularly extending health coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, is too important a priority to be hijacked by those who seek to turn common-sense health reforms into a rancorous debate about whether the federal ban on abortion funding is too broad or too narrow. These efforts failed to derail health care reform this spring, and they will fail to stop much-needed coverage for thousands of Pennsylvanians now.

JOEL ARIO

Insurance Commissioner

Pennsylvania Insurance Department