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Restricting Women's Access to Health Care

On May 4th, the House passed H.R. 3, an unprecedented, radical Republican bill that restricts women's access to health care by a vote of 251-175.  For the first time, this legislation places restrictions on how women with private insurance can spend private dollars in purchasing health insurance.

Leader Pelosi in strong opposition:

Impact of the leglislation:

The Bill Is Likely to Result in Millions of Women Who Work for Small Businesses Losing Access to Comprehensive Coverage.  The bill creates a significant divide between the coverage that large employers are able to offer their employees and the coverage that will be available to employees of smaller employers.  This is because the bill would deny a small employer the ability to use tax credits created by the Affordable Care Act to provide employee health coverage if the coverage includes abortion services.  If this bill is enacted, the over-riding economic incentive of small employers will be to choose coverage for their employees that does not include abortion services.  Under the bill, there is no doubt that women who work for small businesses would lose access to the same type of comprehensive coverage they currently have today.  Currently, 87 percent of employer-provided insurance plans include coverage of abortion.

The Bill Is Likely to Result in Millions of Women Who Will Be Buying Insurance in the Health Exchanges Having No Access to Comprehensive Health Coverage.  Beginning in 2014, the bill provides that families in the Health Insurance Exchanges cannot receive a premium assistance tax credit if they have enrolled in a health plan that covers abortion.  It is precisely these premium assistance tax credits that make the insurance affordable in the first place.  If this bill becomes law, the overriding economic incentive for these women and families will be to choose coverage that does not include abortion services.  The most likely result is that there will end up being no policies covering abortions offered in the Exchanges.  

The Bill Re-Opens The Debate on Abortion That Occurred in 2010 and Throws Out the 2010 Carefully-Worked Out Compromise Between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Advocates.   This bill represents an attack on the carefully-constructed compromise contained in the Affordable Care Act on health coverage and abortion services.  The Affordable Care Act is consistent with long-standing federal law by prohibiting the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except under limited circumstances.  The Act requires two separate premium payments for those women and families who receive premium tax credits and choose coverage that includes abortion services.  The Act is clear - no portion of premium tax credits may be used to pay for the portion of comprehensive health coverage that is purchased in state exchanges that relates to abortion services.  This compromise was endorsed by such pro-life groups as the Catholic Health Association.  And yet now this compromise is being thrown out the window by this bill.

The Bill Will Also Result in Tax Increases for A Number of Women.  The bill would certainly result in a tax increase for certain women and families that are facing an extremely private and personal decision.  For example, the bill treats as taxable any distribution from a health savings account (HSA), Archer medical savings account (MSA), or health flexible spending account (FSA) that is used to pay for abortion-related services - resulting in a tax increase for women affected.  The bill also denies the itemized deduction for medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of AGI for abortion-related expenses - resulting in a tax increase for women affected.  

The Bill Also Puts the IRS into the Middle of Private and Personal Decisions by Families.  The result of this bill would also be that the IRS would be required to use the tools currently available as part of its tax enforcement duties, including the IRS's ability to audit taxpayers, to determine whether tax benefits had properly or improperly been claimed with respect to expenses related to abortion services.

The Bill Further Undermines D.C. Home Rule.  The bill includes provisions that prohibit D.C. from using its own locally-raised Medicaid funds to provide abortion services.  This is one more attempted step by the House Republican majority to further undermine D.C. home rule.  This provision has been included despite the fact that 17 states currently use their own state-raised Medicaid funds to provide abortion services.  The Democratic-controlled Congress had removed this onerous restriction on D.C. in 2009.

Read the bill»

Read the Obama Administration's statement against the bill»

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