By Daniel McConchie & Mary Harned
There has been substantial movement in the states on efforts to opt-out of the abortion mandate in the federal health care reform law. Here are the highlights at the moment:
Passed by legislature and signed by Governor Brewer.
There are three sections in this law. The first is the opt-out (new); the second is a prohibition on the use of public funds for abortions (already in AZ law); the third is a prohibition on the use of public funds for insurance plans that cover abortions (new). The opt-out section explicitly provides that abortion can be covered by a separate rider and premium. Also, they allow an exception for averting substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of a woman. The third section prohibits the use of state funds to subsidize insurance plans that cover abortions. This would effectively include state employee plans, making AZ the 13th state to prohibit this.
Passed by legislature; became law without Governor Bredesen’s signature.
Introduced prior to federal bill passing. The Tennessee language provides that no health care plan required to be established in this state through an exchange pursuant to federal health care reform legislation enacted by the 111th Congress shall offer coverage for abortion services.
Pending Governor’s Signature:
Gov. Charlie Crist is reportedly considering vetoing the opt-out/ultrasound requirement bill currently pending before him. Crist said on Wednesday, “Even though I’m pro-life I don’t want to impose my will on others.” He has 15 days to decide what to do about the bill or it will become law without his signature.
Governor Haley Barbour is expected to not only sign the bill, but do it in a public setting with pro-life legislators and activists in attendance at some point in the next couple weeks.
Other states where bills likely to move shortly:
HB1247 would not only opt the state out of the abortion mandate in the federal health care law, it would ban insurance companies from offering abortion coverage except as a separate rider. It has already passed the House and is pending in the Senate. The bill reportedly has the full backing of Governor Jindal.
The opt-out language is tied to a bill that expands the state’s informed consent statute. The bill has passed the Senate and is pending in the House. We expect passage within the next week.
The opt-out bill, HB3290, is pending in conference committee and fully expected to be passed sometime in the next week or so.