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Upcoming HHS Regs May Force Payment for ella

Long decried as false, President Obama’s assurance that “if you like your [insurance] plan… you can keep your plan,” may become even more untrue for Americans who want to keep their pro-life insurance plans after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issues regulations on “preventive care” for women that will apply to all insurance plans.  The HHS regulations are slated to be issued before August 1, and will be based on a recommendation that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) will announce this Wednesday.  It seems likely that regulations will mean more money for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, and be an affront to the consciences of many Americans.

The Obama Administration’s ability to push more funding for abortion and abortion-causing drugs through PPACA’s “preventive care” mandate is something Americans United for Life has warned about since before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was passed into law.  President Obama’s Executive Order – for which several pro-life House Democrats traded in their votes – utterly failed to address this glaring loophole.  Now it appears pro-life Americans are about to pay the price.

PPACA requires all insurance plans – not just those participating in the state exchanges set to begin in 2014 – to cover, without charging a co-pay, “preventive care” for women.  However, the law does not define what “preventive care” specifically includes.  Instead, Congress left this determination to HHS. 

On July 19, 2010, HHS issued an interim final rule, specifying that HHS would be developing guidelines on “evidence-informed preventive care and screening” for women and that these guidelines will be issued no later than August 1, 2011.  HHS, in turn, tasked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) with making an “evidence-informed” recommendation of what services to include.

The IOM held three public meetings, at which nearly every official presenter urged that all FDA approved contraceptives be included in the preventive care mandate.  That definition would require coverage for so-called emergency contraceptives, including ella, which can kill a human embryo even after implantation.  Thus, if “contraception” is included in the definition of “preventive care,” Americans will be forced to subsidize abortion-causing drugs with their insurance premiums.

Though not invited by the IOM to formally present, AUL attended and delivered comments at each meeting, urging the committee not to include abortion and abortion-inducing drugs.  AUL also submitted a written comment to HHS. 

However, given the composition of the IOM meetings, it seems that Planned Parenthood is about to get another bail-out from the federal government and that no American will be able to choose an insurance plan that does not cover abortion-causing drugs, such as ella.  Inconsistent with longstanding American values, such a coercive measure would be, unfortunately, all-too consistent with the anti-life agenda of the Obama Administration.