Senators Urge HHS to Enforce Separate Abortion Fee Payment Requirement

Fourteen Senators, including Senator Joni Ernst, are encouraging the Trump administration to move forward with a final rule that would ensure pro-life consumers enrolled in Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plans aren’t subsidizing abortion services.

In a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, the Senators expressed their support for an HHS rule on ACA Section 1303.  The rule, titled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Exchange Program Integrity,” would require policy holders to submit separate payments for basic insurance and additional coverage for abortion.

“The proposed rule aligns with the clear meaning and congressional intent of Section 1303 by eliminating the hidden abortion surcharge in many ACA plans,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The Hyde Amendment protects federal health care dollars from funding elective abortions and insurance plans that include elective abortion.  The ACA deviated from this long-standing precedent by creating its own funding stream making taxpayer dollars available to buy abortion-covering health insurance plans in ACA exchanges throughout the country,” they said.

The Senators also strongly encouraged HHS to strengthen the final rule to clarify the illegality of the Obama administration’s interpretation of ACA Section 1303.

“The Obama Administration’s misinterpretation created a hidden abortion surcharge on many health care plans in exchanges throughout the nation,” the letter said.  “The meaning of Section 1303 is straightforward and congressional intent is clear.  We are concerned that the proposed rule’s analysis fails to adequately acknowledge the illegality of the prior regulation.  We ask that the final rule directly addresses this concern.”

In addition to Ernst, the letter was signed by Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.).