GAO: Taxpayer funds likely paying for abortion under Obamacare

by Courtney Crandell
Posted 9/18/14, 11:18 am

Several insurance providers participating in Obamacare have violated a provision requiring separate itemization of abortion coverage, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Monday. Only one of the 18 insurers evaluated by the GAO complied. 

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to separately itemize and charge for abortion coverage, a compromise designed to prevent taxpayer funding of abortions. The compromise drew support from pro-life Democrats in 2010, and was crucial to overcoming Republican opposition. Federal law under the Hyde Amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or threats to the life of the mother. President Barack Obama promised in March 2010 that the Affordable Care Act policies would adhere to the Hyde Amendment. 

But the GAO report revealed taxpayer funding is likely subsidizing elective abortions. The report evaluated the 27 states and Washington, D.C., that do not restrict elective abortion coverage in their insurance markets. It found that 1,036 of the 2,098 subsidized plans in those states cover elective abortions. The 18 evaluated insurers offered a quarter of those policies. Although the GAO report didn’t specify that taxpayer money funded abortions under Obamacare, it raised serious concerns.  

“Now we know that at least 1,036 plans cover abortion, and the so-called ‘surcharge’ for abortion coverage is simply an accounting gimmick,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America. “For a president who claims to pursue the most transparent administration, he continues to reject calls to shed light on what exactly is in plans on the health care exchange.”

The separate charge for abortion coverage allows people to know whether or not their insurance policy covers elective abortions. But without the separate charge, the information is difficult to obtain, the report found. Even abortion supporters have asked for clearer information on the coverage offered under insurance policies.

Last year, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., discovered the difficulty of determining the coverage offered in healthcare policies after congressmen were required to join Obamacare last year. After several months, Smith found that of the 112 health insurance plans available, 103 covered elective abortions, according to a news release

“Americans throughout the country have raised serious concerns that they find it nearly impossible to determine whether the plan they purchase finances the killing of unborn children—there is little or no transparency—hence the request by several members of Congress including [House Speaker John] Boehner that GAO investigate,” said Smith, who also co-chairs the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. 

The Health and Human Services Department acknowledged in a written response that “additional clarification may be needed” regarding the healthcare law’s abortion coverage. 

In response, pro-lifers have called for the passage of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” authored by Smith. The House of Representatives passed the bill in January, but it met opposition in the Senate. 

“Nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion,” Nance said. “The House has acted by passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act; it is time for Sen. [Harry] Reid and President Obama to rectify this broken promise.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Courtney Crandell

Courtney is a Virginia journalist. Follow her on Twitter @CourtneyLeeC.

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