Senators weigh in on plan to change billing for abortions

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U.S. senators on both sides of the aisle sent separate letters to HHS expressing their different views on a proposed rule regarding billing for abortion coverage, according to a Roll Call report.

Fourteen Republican senators — led by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.— expressed their support for the proposed rule, which would require patients enrolled in ACA health plans to pay two separate bills if they buy insurance that covers abortion, according to a news release. One bill would be for basic insurance and the other for additional abortion coverage.

"The proposed rule aligns with the clear meaning and congressional intent of Section 1303 [of the ACA] by eliminating the hidden abortion surcharge in many ACA plans," the lawmakers wrote in their letter to HHS.

 "The Hyde Amendment protects federal healthcare 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.

Thirty-four Democrat senators — led by Patty Murray, D-Wash. — expressed concerns that the rule could negatively affect overall medical coverage and access to abortion services, according to the report.

"The proposed rule is clearly intended to make it harder for women to access abortion care and to prevent insurers from offering abortion coverage," they wrote in their letter.  "It is the latest administrative action in a long line of attacks by the Trump-Pence administration to undermine access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare, particularly abortion, and to sabotage the healthcare system."

Both letters were sent as part of the public comment period for the rule.


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