Pro-choice groups were up in arms last week after the announcement that abortion coverage would be excluded from the temporary healthcare pools that will form a bridge into the new healthcare system. The commotion began when questions arose over whether high-risk pools (known technically as Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans, or PCIPs), could include abortion coverage. These PCIPs will last until 2014, when new health insurance exchanges become operational.
According to Jessica Arons, writing for RHRealityCheck, the women who enter the PCIPs are already high-risk, meaning that for whatever reason, insurers are unwilling to sell them insurance. So their potential need for an abortion is already greater than most. The interesting thing is that nothing in federal law actually prohibits the use of federal or state funds to cover abortion in PCIPs; the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds for abortion, does not apply here.
Last March, in a last-minute compromise to gain votes from anti-choice Democrats, Obama signed an executive order that reiterated the limitations on abortion coverage in insurance exchanges and applied funding restrictions to community health centers. This executive order, however, was mainly seen as “preserving the status quo,” and not going further than what was already in the current law. This new restriction thus actually amplifies the effect of the original health care bill. The administration ended the debate when they announced that elective abortions cannot be offered to people under PCIPs.
Outraged statements from pro-choice organizations have flooded the internet since last Wednesday, when the debate started. Planned Parenthood denounced the move as “effectively denying some of the most medically vulnerable women in America access to desperately needed coverage,” and NARAL Pro-Choice America said, “it is unacceptable to treat abortion care differently in the new high-risk pools.”
As Allie Bohm of the ACLU points out in another piece for RH, the Obama administration went much further than it needed to. “There’s nothing in the new Health Care Reform law that requires this restriction,” Bohm writes, “and it is deeply disturbing that a pro-choice administration would voluntarily impose such an anti-choice measure.” Yes, yes it is.
Any further restrictions on accessible, affordable abortion are, of course, devastating to me, and all supporters of reproductive choice. You can take action by writing to President Obama through Planned Parenthood’s website here, and asking him to reverse the decision.
Photo from Flickr.