GAO Report Shows How Obamacare Subsidizes Abortion

Obamacare by from Washington Examiner, September 15, 2014

In a country evenly divided on abortion, there’s broad agreement that pro-lifers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize abortion. Obamacare shreds this notion of conscience protection.

Again and again, during the congressional debate, Obamacare defenders promised: Obamacare subsidies won’t subsidize abortion; customers will be able to choose insurance plans that don’t cover abortion; Obamacare subsidies, if they want to pay for abortion coverage, will be billed separately.

A new GAO report shows that Obamacare is failing on these counts.

Warning of “bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost,” for instance, President Obama told Congress in 2009: “And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up—under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (now a healthcare lobbyist) became the 60th vote for Obamacare after supposedly winning a compromise from his party on abortion coverage. Nelson explained it this way:

If you are receiving Federal assistance to buy insurance, and if that plan has any abortion coverage, the insurance company must bill you separately, and you must pay separately from your own personal funds … for that abortion coverage.

The new GAO study shows that, instead, taxpayers are subsidizing abortions. Customers in five states have no abortion-free plans available to them, and in many states, customers can’t tell which plans cover abortion and which don’t.

In Washington State, for instance, the state’s exchange bills customers on behalf of insurers—and the exchange covers abortion with federal tax dollars. The GAO found: “The exchange’s billing system was not assessing any premium to individuals whose premiums are fully subsidized under the law if these individuals are enrolled in QHPs that cover non-excepted abortion services.”

In other words, some customers with abortion coverage were nevertheless getting their entire premium covered by federal tax credits. No accounting gimmick can disguise that this is an abortion subsidy. State officials told the GAO this was a mistake they would remedy.

In fifteen other states, there’s not enough transparency to tell if this is going on. GAO wrote:

Fifteen issuers and the Washington Health Benefit Exchange … did not itemize the premium amount associated with non-excepted abortion services coverage on enrollees’ bills nor indicate that they send a separate bill for that premium amount.

In a conference call with pro-life lawmakers Monday, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said this indicates that abortion coverage isn’t being assessed differently and is thus being subsidized through standard exchange subsidies.

Not only is Obamacare forcing taxpayers to subsidize abortion coverage, it is also making it impossible for pro-lifers to avoid buying abortion insurance—thus forcing pro-life people to pay into a pool that pays for abortions.

“In 5 states,” the GAO writes, “(Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont), all”  plans sold on the exchanges cover elective abortions.

Even where abortion-free plans are available, they’re often hard to identify. From GAO:

Eleven issuers indicated that consumers shopping for QHPs [Qualified Health Plans] do not have access to such information; some of these issuers indicated that consumers would need to call the issuer directly before enrolling to determine whether a QHP provides coverage for abortion services.

On yet another score, Obamacare is failing to live up to the promises on which it passed.

© 2014 by the Washington Examiner. Reprinted with permission.