Victory and Defeat

We passed health care legislation through the House late Saturday night. That’s a big step for the cause:

The Representatives who voted ‘yes’ sided with the American people and not the big insurance companies that have been working overtime to try and kill meaningful health care reform. Tonight members of Congress stood up to the insurance lobbyists, voted to stop insurers from denying people health care when they need it most, and finally brought true choice and competition to the health insurance marketplace by creating a national public health insurance option.

But it’s a touch bittersweet b/c it included one rotten step for women. The Stupak amendment is not about federal funding for abortion. It is much broader than that. It prevents millions of women from getting coverage that is widely available now – insurance that covers abortion services.

The core premise of health reform is that if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. Yet for the millions of women whose current insurance plans include coverage for abortion care, that promise will be broken if this becomes law. NYT:

Abortion rights advocates charged Sunday that the provision threatened to deprive women of abortion coverage because insurers would drop the procedure from their plans in order to sell them in the newly expanded market of people receiving subsidies. The subsidized market would be large because anyone earning less than $88,000 for a family of four — four times the poverty level — would be eligible for a subsidy under the House bill. Women who received subsidies or public insurance could still pay out of pocket for the procedure. Or they could buy separate insurance riders to cover abortion, though some evidence suggests few would, in part because few plan for unintended pregnancies.

That last point is very important. Under the Stupak amendment, the millions of women who will get coverage through the Exchange, from private or public insurance, will not be able to get coverage for abortion services. But most private insurance plans now cover abortion services. And it does not make any sense to say that women will still be able to buy coverage for abortion outside of the Exchange. Abortion is a difficult decision that women make for an unplanned pregnancy. It’s not something that you buy insurance for.

If you’re pro-choice and haven’t gotten involved in the fight for health care reform yet, now would be your call to action.

3 thoughts on “Victory and Defeat”

  1. I haven't read all the details of this amendment. Would it not even allow coverage for women who need the abortion for health reasons? To be honest I didn't even know that any insurance companies covered abortion.

  2. I'm truly stunned by that. I had no idea that it was covered anywhere. I guess my working at a Catholic medical school (Georgetown) led me to believe that their repressive actions were the norm rather than the exception.

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