WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the United States Conferenceof Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities wrote to members of the Houseof Representatives to support the "Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act"(H.R. 3279), to address one part of the abortion-related problem in theAffordable Care Act (ACA).
In his Nov. 1 letter, Cardinal Seán O'Malley, Archbishopof Boston, wrote: "Under the ACA, unless state law requires otherwise, eachinsurer may choose whether to include elective abortions in the health plans itoffers on a state health exchange.Ifthe insurer does cover such abortions, the overall health plan may stillreceive federal tax subsidies; and every enrollee -- regardless of age, sex, orconscientious objection – must make a separate payment solely to cover otherenrollees' abortions.This violates thepolicies governing all other federal health programs.In no other program may federal funds subsidizeany part of a health plan that covers such abortions; and nowhere else does thefederal government forbid insurers to allow an 'opt-out' from such coverage onconscience grounds."
Cardinal O'Malley continued that this "substantive problemon abortion" is compounded by the ACA's unique secrecy provisions.The insurer may not answer a concernedpurchaser's questions as to whether the plan covers abortions (except when itlists all services at the time he or she is already enrolling in theplan).And it may not reveal how much ofthe person's premium goes into a separate abortion fund.
"In other words, not only may pro-life people have a verylimited choice of health plans that do not violate their consciences – but thelaw makes it all but impossible for them to find out which plans they are,"Cardinal O'Malley said.
Citing a 2009 poll, Cardinal O'Malley said most Americans,particularly most women, do not want abortion coverage in their health plans.
"H.R. 3279 does not affect the ACA's underlying abortionproblem, which is the subject of other legislation we support such as the NoTaxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7)," Cardinal O'Malley said. "The newbill addresses only this unprecedented policy of government-enforced secrecy.Health plans will have to report on their coverage of abortion, and on theextra payment they charge to cover abortions.Only then will Americans be enabled to make an informed choice of ahealth plan for themselves and their families that does not violate their moraland religious convictions. This should be a point of agreement between lawmakerswho consider themselves both 'pro-life' and 'pro-choice.'Any claim of 'choice' is empty if the lawconceals the facts needed to make that choice.Please co-sponsor H.R. 3279 and help enact it into law."
Full text of the letter is available online: https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/upload/Cdl-OMalley-Abortion-Insurance-Disclosure-Bill_11-1-13.pdf
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, Pro-Life Activities,Religious Liberty, Cardinal Seán O'Malley, Continuing Resolution, debt ceiling,Health Care Conscience Rights Act, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, U.S.House of Representatives, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, health carereform, HHS mandate, hospitals, employers
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