Senate, House lawmakers press HHS to end hidden abortion surcharge

Jul 02, 2019
In The News

Senate, House lawmakers press HHS to end hidden abortion surcharge

Written by: Sarah Ulmer
Published by: Y’all Politics

Senate and House lawmakers, led by U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Congressman Michael Cloud (R-Texas), today pressed the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) to quickly finalize a rule to end a hidden surcharge within many health plans that funds elective abortion services.

Hyde-Smith and Cloud sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, signed by 25 Senators and 103 Representatives, that stresses the importance of swiftly replacing an Obama-era rule that violates congressional directives in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to keep abortion service charges separate from other premium payments.

“There is an urgency to ensure people are not unknowingly supporting abortions if they’re enrolled in ACA health plans.  The Obama administration strayed far from the law by allowing hidden abortion surcharges on people who would never condone their hard-earned money going to support abortions,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The regulations need to be corrected as soon as possible.”

“Taxpayer money should never be used to take innocent lives, and Obamacare passed with the promise that taxpayers would not have to subsidize another person’s abortion,” said Cloud.  “Nevertheless, these hidden abortion surcharges were pushed upon Americans who would have objected had they known.”

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Congressmen Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), and Michael Guest (R-Miss.).

A proposed HHS rule, titled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Exchange Program Integrity,” would enforce the separate payment requirement for ACA health plans that cover elective abortion services.  While Congress required separate payments under ACA Section 1303, the Obama administration allowed such abortion fees to be paid together with other premium payments.

“This misinterpretation of the law created a hidden abortion surcharge in many health care plans on exchanges throughout the nation, requiring enrollees to—in some cases unknowingly—subsidize elective abortion,” the letter to Azar said.

“We continue to urge swift action to finalize the rule in time for 2020 Open Enrollment.  Failing to do so will result in another year of noncompliance with the requirements of Section 1303.  It is time for the Obama-era regulation to be replaced,” the letter concluded.

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