Abortion-Rights Opponents Embrace Opportunity To Restrict Coverage in Exchanges

February 15, 2013 — Abortion-rights opponents in several states are using a provision in the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) to prevent private health insurers from covering abortion in the state health insurance exchanges, NBC News reports (Fox, NBC News, 2/14).

Under the ACA, private health plans offered through state health insurance exchanges can only offer abortion coverage that is segregated from other coverage and paid for with a separate payment. The law also permits states to enact additional limits on abortion coverage in the exchanges (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/1).

At least 21 states have enacted or are considering legislation that will bar abortion coverage in the exchanges. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe signed the latest measure (HB 1100) into law on Monday.

Gretchen Borchelt, head of state reproductive health policy at the National Women's Law Center, said that because "there is language in the [ACA] that says specifically that states can do this, states have taken it up." She added, "We are very, very concerned that women are losing access to these benefits and concerned that politicians are stepping in and interfering with a woman's ability to make her own health care decisions" (NBC News, 2/14).