Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Governor McDonnell adds unnecessary abortion amendment

Why did Governor McDonnell find it necessary to add an amendment to the General Assembly’s health reform legislation to prohibit abortion coverage through insurance plans purchased through the federally run health care exchange that will serve Virginia.

In a request for explanation from Jeff Caldwell, the Governor’s Press Secretary replied:

Governor McDonnell has always maintained a pro-life stance. These amendments continue a policy established by the General Assembly in 2011 when it passed initial legislation to govern the possibility of a state-run health exchange. While Virginia has now notified the federal government that it will participate in a federal exchange, the policy toward restricting federal funding from paying for abortions as part of this exchange has not changed. Therefore, the governor proposes to insert the previously agreed upon language into this year’s exchange bills to clarify that this policy will continue under the federally run exchanges in Virginia, and to maintain consistency with this policy established by the General Assembly in 2011.

Within days of passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act opponents charged that federal subsidies will pay for abortions. According to the critics, the new regulations will also end up tricking prolife Americans into inadvertently signing up for insurance plans that cover abortions.

This is false as the Affordable Care Act – none of the policies will be required to cover elective abortions.

The law prohibits use of its new federal tax subsidies to pay for abortions, except where they can otherwise be covered by federal funds (in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother). The law also protects the conscience rights of health-care providers to refuse to perform abortions, and it prohibits discrimination against such providers. (This is exactly what McDonnell added in an amendment to appease the pro-lifers and enrage the pro-choice advocates.)

So why do prolife advocates continue to attack the Affordable Care Act? The law requires states to establish government-regulated exchanges, or markets, where consumers can shop for health-insurance plans and, if necessary, pay for them using federal tax credits. The provisions that prohibit the use of federal funding to pay for abortions covered through the exchanges are complicated, and for those determined to find a sinister purpose in the legislation, these provisions and the regulations that implement them can be twisted to suggest one.

This prompted Governor McDonnell to repeat verbatim – the statute’s language regarding abortion. Contrary to what has been suggested, they do not introduce new pro abortion measures.

If the Commonwealth offered an insurance exchange Virginians would be able to choose a private insurance plan from several offerings. Low and middle income Virginians would be eligible for federal tax credits that will help them pay for the plan they choose. The private plans offered through exchanges must cover specific basic benefits – including maternity care – but otherwise can offer whatever benefits consumers might want.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Politics, State Politics

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