House Votes to Halt Abortion Coverage Under Health Care Law

Abortions, which were a major issue in health care reform before it passed last year, have taken precedence again in Congress. The House passed legislation this week that bars an insurance plan regulated under the new law from covering abortion of any if its customers receive federal subsidies.

House Pushes for Health Insurance Providers to Offer Identical Plans

The legislation, which passed in the House with 251-172 vote, is fighting against insurance providers covering abortion.

Prior to the law passing, the government allowed federal dollars to be used as a form of health insurance to pay for abortions if the pregnant women were considered to be in life-threatening situations, or were the victims of rape or incest. Obama signed an executive order reaffirming this rule, known as the Hyde Amendment.

The legislation is meant to ensure companies don’t provide abortion coverage to anyone receiving federal subsidies. To ensure it doesn’t happen, the legislation is asking companies to set up identical plans, one that covers abortions for those without subsidies and one that doesn’t cover abortions for those with subsidies.

If they plan to offer abortion coverage and don’t set up the two plans, they won’t be able to participate in a health insurance exchange to be set up under the new law, which provides them with tons of benefits.

Health Care Legislation Not Expected to Pass in Congress

While the legislation passed easily in the House, most say it is unlikely that it will even be considered by the Democratic-led Senate. If it did manage to pass, it is like to face a veto threat from President Barack Obama. Democrats, disappointed in the attempt to pass the legislation, chided Republicans for wasting time that could be spent on promoting job growth.

They went on to say that most providers would not set up two separate plans, meaning that millions of middle- and low-income women who receive partial subsidies to buy their insurance would be denied abortion coverage.

But supporters plan to continue their push for the bill. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said they are trying to close loopholes in the health care act that could lead to violations of the prohibition of federal funding of abortion.