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GOP Coalition Blocks Wash. Abortion Coverage Bill

GOP Coalition Blocks Wash. Abortion Coverage Bill

April 18, 2013 —On Wednesday, a Republican coalition in the Washington state Senate blocked debate of a provision that would have required health plans to cover abortion care, the AP/KOMO News reports.

Some Senate Democrats said they planned to amend an insurance bill to include the abortion requirement ahead of a key cutoff for considering legislation. A bill (HB 1044) including the abortion coverage requirement previously passed the House, and Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has urged approval in the Senate (Baker, AP/KOMO News, 4/17).

Although a majority of senators have expressed support for the abortion coverage measure, Washington Senate Health Care Committee Chair Randi Becker (R) earlier this month blocked it from advancing to the full chamber. Becker's move meant that special action would be needed to bring the measure to the floor.

The provision aims to ensure the availability of abortion coverage in Washington after provisions of the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) take effect in 2014. Under the ACA, private health plans in states' health insurance marketplaces must segregate the premiums they collect for abortion coverage from other payments, which could serve as a disincentive to offer the coverage (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/2).

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On Wednesday, Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler accused state Sen. Karen Keiser (D) of "impugning" her fellow senators by criticizing the refusal to allow a vote on the bill. He urged lawmakers to vote on the procedural aspect of the motion to consider the measure, rather than the intent of the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D) and state Sen. Steve Litzow (R) -- who both have backed the measure -- voted with the GOP coalition to defeat the motion (AP/KOMO News, 4/17).