Politics

Obamacare Abortion Rules Often Ignored, New GAO Report Reveals

Investigation discovers that many Obamacare plans do not distinguish whether subsidies pay for abortion

AP

Despite supposedly rigid rules on whether customers can use federal health care subsidies on insurance policies that cover abortion procedures, a Government Accountability Office investigation shows there are widespread instances of the rules being violated.

Politico reported that the House Republican leadership-backed investigation found 15 insurers in a sample of 18 sell Obamacare plans that do not segregate funds to cover abortion--except in cases of rape, incest, or risking the mother's life–from their Obamacare subsidies.

"All but three issuers indicated that the [abortion coverage] benefit is not subject to any restrictions, limitations, or exclusions," the GAO wrote in its report.

Obamacare requires insurers to collect separate payments from customers for abortion coverage to keep taxpayer dollars from paying for the procedure. This policy was critical to get the health care law through Congress. During the 2009 Joint Session of Congress on Health Care, President Obama promised specifically that Obamacare would not fund abortions.

"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."

The GAO report found that in five states–Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey Rhode Island, and Vermont–insurance plans offered on their health care exchanges cover abortions beyond the exceptions for rape, incest, and protecting the mother's life.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) responded to the report in a release Wednesday.

"In 2010, President Obama and the leaders of the Democratic majority in Congress rammed through a government takeover of America’s health care system over the objections of the American people.  The measure passed the House in part because the White House and Democratic leaders insisted that Obamacare would not use taxpayer funds to support elective abortions.

"Today’s GAO report confirms that under the president’s health care law, abortions are being paid for with taxpayer funds by more than 1,000 exchange plans across the country.  This information has been hidden from the American public for years by the Obama Administration, which repeatedly denied congressional requests for its public release.

The report is likely to draw new attacks on congressional Democrats from anti-abortion groups and from the Republicans that criticized the dual-payment plan.