- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In response to evidence that hundreds of taxpayer-subsidized health care plans under Obamacare include abortion coverage, pro-life groups are using a Capitol Hill press briefing Thursday to launch a new website aimed at making clear which plans will pay for the procedure.

The new website will identify health care plans that include coverage of abortion on demand and which do not, said Charles A. “Chuck” Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Pro-life activists say Obama administration officials have often been vague in their responses about abortion funding in the Affordable Care Act, “so our overall posture is that we would need to do this ourselves,” said Mr. Donovan.

Representatives of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom have planned the congressional event to discuss the website and abortion policies seen since “open season” enrollment for Obamacare “exchanges” began Nov. 15 at the federal and state-based exchanges.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and a leading pro-life voice in Congress, applauded the groups for “attempting to do what the administration has adamantly refused to do, and that is be transparent and open and make it clear what people are buying.”

“The fact that the Obama administration has hidden the coverage of abortion, and the cost of that coverage, to an individual premium payer is unconscionable,” Mr. Smith said, adding that even he and his staff had to call around to find out which health care plans did not provide elective abortions.

Mr. Smith is lead sponsor of a House-passed bill that would codify the long-standing restrictions on federal abortion funding and forbid coverage of elective abortions in federally funded health insurance plans. Mr. Smith said Wednesday he expects to reintroduce the bill, but predicts it will have a better shot at passage in the new “very pro-life Senate.”

Abortion coverage in the Affordable Care Act roiled the 2009-2010 legislative debate, when pro-life Democrats refused to support it if it expanded taxpayer-funded abortions.

To win their votes, President Obama promised — and issued — an executive order prohibiting federal funding for abortion in the new health care exchanges. “Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion, and federal conscience laws will remain in place,” the president told Congress in 2009.

Under the ACA, women who want abortion coverage are supposed to write a separate check for that coverage, and health insurers are required to keep those funds separate from taxpayer funds.

In September, however, the Government Accountability Office reported that more than 1,000 taxpayer-subsidized health care plans in 28 states covered elective abortions — and most insurers did not bill the abortion surcharges separately.

Moreover, the GAO said, in at least five states, every health plan included abortion coverage, which meant pro-life consumers were not given even one of the abortion-free alternative plans they were promised.

The Department of Health and Human Services said it would push states to comply with Obamacare’s abortion rules and ensure that states and insurers offered consumers insurance options without abortion.

Thursday’s press conference comes in the wake of the furor over videotaped statements by key Obamacare consultant Jonathan Gruber about how the law’s drafters intended to create “a lack of transparency” around the funding of Obamacare, relying in part on the “stupidity of the American voter.”

Mr. Gruber’s comments indicate “a pattern of deception” about the law, said Mr. Smith. “Agree or disagree [about abortion], but don’t lie to the public,” he said.

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