May 27, 2015 — The Texas House on Tuesday did not approve a bill (SB 575) that would have prohibited most abortion coverage in plans sold through the state's federally operated health insurance marketplace by a legislative deadline, effectively killing the measure for the legislative session, the Texas Tribune reports.
According to the Tribune, the state House had until midnight Tuesday to approve any measures that began in the state Senate (Ura et al., Texas Tribune, 5/27).
The Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) allows states to 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/26). Overall, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 25 states restrict insurers from covering abortion in plans sold through the marketplace, with 10 of those states banning abortion coverage in all private plans (Guttmacher Institute factsheet, 5/1)
The original bill would have restricted abortion coverage in private insurance plans. However, the Texas House State Affairs Committee on Saturday amended the measure so that it would have applied only to marketplace plans.
Specifically, the bill would have allowed plans to cover abortion only when the procedure is necessary to save a woman's life or to prevent "substantial impairment of a major bodily function." The bill did not include exemptions for mental health risks. Further, the bill did not make exemptions for cases of rape or severe fetal anomalies.
To obtain coverage for an abortion that does not qualify as a medical emergency under the bill, women would have had to purchase supplemental insurance plans (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/26).
Bills Dies in State House, Possible Return Next Session
According to the Tribune, the bill died after state lawmakers who support abortion rights used procedural tactics to delay a vote on SB 575 and other measures until after the legislative deadline.
Sen. Larry Taylor (R), who wrote the bill, said it likely would be proposed again in the next legislative session (Ura et al., Texas Tribune, 5/27).