Monday, December 21, 2009

NARAL Pro-Choice New York's take on Senate Health Care reform bill...

I am writing to share a letter with you from Kelli Conlin, NARAL Pro-Choice New York's President, regarding the Senate's Health Care reform bill and the impact it has on abortion coverage.  I have also included a link to our public statement here: http://www.prochoiceny.org/news/press/200912191.shtml.  Please take a look and feel free to forward the public statement widely.

Thank you as always for your commitment to reproductive choice. 

In solidarity,
Lalena

Lalena Howard, MSW
Community Organizer
NARAL Pro-Choice New York
470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10016
646-520-3506
lhoward@prochoiceny.org
www.prochoiceny.org
Click here to start making pro-choice change today!
http://www.prochoiceny.org/getinvolved/


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NARAL Pro-Choice New York opposes the language in the manager's amendment in the Senate Health Care reform bill. 

First, as you may have heard, if the insurance plan offers coverage, the plan must receive a separate payment for abortion coverage that is equal to the portion of the premium that will be used to cover the abortion (based on actuarial value).  This creates a bizarre system where either employers or individuals will have to write separate checks that will go directly to the "abortion fund" (not named that officially, but everyone will know what it's for).  These separate payments must be placed in a separate account. If the employer is making the deposit it must also be kept in a separate account.  These amounts will be very small (some estimates are about a dollar each month), but could present such a headache that insurers will cut off the procedure from coverage, most likely.

Second, the bill creates an "opt-out" that allows states to prohibit coverage of abortion in the exchange operating in that state. A law must be passed banning such coverage. The health care reform law does not require any insurance plan to offer abortion as part of the essential health care coverage. This includes abortions for rape, incest and life endangerment.  Also, some have asked me if there is any carve-out for expensive, later term procedures due to fetal anomaly.  The answer is no, those procedures would be treated exactly the same as other abortion procedures.  This provision will definitely create huge battlegrounds in many states.

Also of note, at least two plans can be offered that will be administered by the government, in lieu of the public option. One must NOT cover abortion. The other can do whatever it wants - which could mean covering abortion but it may not. 

This language represents a big step backward in terms of coverage for abortion procedures.  While not an outright ban like the Stupak amendment (currently in the House bill), it will likely have the effect of banning abortion for most women who join the exchange and live in states that do not allow Medicaid coverage for abortion--which is the case in 37 states.  It is also worse than the Capps Amendment and former Senate version because it does not guarantee any plan will offer abortion coverage and it adds immense administrative burdens on women and employers who will have to pay separately for the abortion coverage (which is very reminiscent of the abortion rider provision). 

Here in New York, this defeat gives us a great opportunity to renew our push for the Reproductive Health Act, to codify Roe v. Wade.  Although it does not directly respond to these funding issues, the horrible saga we are witnessing shows that we can never trust that our issues are protected, even under Democratic leadership at the federal level.  We need to protect ourselves here in New York.  For the Institute, I think we can emphasize that we will be working with state and local groups in all states to push back on efforts to eliminate funding for abortion and other reproductive health care.

I have attached our public statement.  Please feel free to disseminate widely.

Warm Regards,

Kelli

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