More than 120 members of Congress signed a letter to Alex Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, demanding the end of a hidden health surcharge that funds abortion.
The surcharge is found in health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act and funds elective abortion services.
The letter supports a new rule proposed by HHS that would require separate payments for abortion coverage in ACA plans. Previously, the Obama administration had allowed abortion service charges to be collected with other premium payments.
“Section 1303 of the ACA required qulified health plans (QHPs) that covered elective abortions to collect a separate payment — sometimes referred to as an abortion surcharge — of at least $1 per enrollee per month and deposit it into an abortion account,” the letter read.
“Unfortunately, in an exercise of executive overreach, the Obama Administration undermined Section 1303 by interpreting ‘separate’ to mean ‘together’ in subsequent regulatory guidance.
“Blatantly disregarding congressional authority, the guidance stated that simply sending a single notice about the surcharge or itemizing the abortion surcharge on monthly bills would saitsfy the requirement under Section 1303.”
According to the letter, this stipulation allowed the surcharge payment to be collected with any premium payments in the same check.
This misinterpretation of the law created the “hidden abortion surcharge in many health care plans on exchanges throughout the nation, requiring enrollees to — in some cases unknowingly — subsidize elective abortion.”
Signatories claim that the proposed rule would put the ACA back in line with the original text of the law.
“We encourage swift finalization of the proposed rule, titled ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Exchange Program Integrity,’ as it relates to compliance with the separate payment requirement in Section 1303 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA),” it said.
“We support the rule and sincerely thank the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for proposing it. Finalization of this rule is critical and very time sensitive, as Open Enrollment for 2020 begins November 1, 2019.”
Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Rep. Michael Cloud led the push for lawmakers to send the letter to Azar.
“There is an urgency to ensure people are not unknowingly supporting abortions if they’re enrolled in ACA health plans,” Hyde-Smith said in a media release.
“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. The regulations need to be corrected as soon as possible.”
Cloud added, “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. Nevertheless, these hidden abortion surcharges were pushed upon Americans who would have objected had they known.”
“Obamacare was the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand since Roe,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life non-profit organization Susan B. Anthony List, said in a media release praising the letter.
“Consumers deserve transparent information about the hidden abortion surcharge and the opportunity to avoid plans that cover abortion during the 2020 open enrollment period.”
The 25 senators and 103 representatives who signed the letter called for “swift action to finalize the rule in time for 2020 Open Enrollment.”
If the Trump administration does not quickly amend the error, it will result in at least another year of noncompliance with Section 1303.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.