April 29, 2015 — A Texas Senate Committee on Monday voted 6-1 to advance a bill (SB 575) that would prohibit most abortion coverage in private health plans and in plans sold through the state's federally operated health insurance marketplace, Texas Public Radio reports.
The measure now proceeds to the full state Senate (Poppe, Texas Public Radio, 4/27). Meanwhile, the state House State Affairs Committee is weighing a similar measure (HB 3130) that would ban abortion coverage from plans sold through the marketplace.
According to Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune, the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) lets states determine whether plans sold through the marketplace will include abortion coverage. In states that permit abortion coverage, the law requires insurers to segregate funds collected for abortion coverage from other premiums.
Currently, Texas permits marketplace plans to include abortion coverage. Overall, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union, insurers in 10 states are banned from covering abortion, and 15 states prohibit insurers from covering abortion in plans sold through the marketplace (Ura, Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune, 4/27).
The bills would allow private and marketplace plans to include abortion coverage only for medical emergencies (Texas Public Radio, 4/27).
According to state Sen. Larry Taylor (R), the bill's sponsor, women would have to purchase supplemental insurance plans to cover abortion in any other circumstances.
During debate over the measure, Taylor said the measure would let people "choose to pay for abortions or ... choose not to pay for ... abortions."
Meanwhile, state Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D) asked whether "the practical effect of this bill would make abortion uninsurable." She noted that she heard comments about how the measure could increase premium costs by requiring women to purchase supplemental plans.
Separately, Ana Rodriguez DeFrates, state policy and advocacy director for the Texas Latina Advocacy Network, noted that the proposed bill does not include abortion coverage in instances of rape, incest or fetal anomaly. "We believe every woman should be able to make the personal decision she thinks is best for her and her family and privately purchase the insurance plan that is best for her and her family," she said (Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune, 4/27).