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Abortion Ban in High-Risk Insurance Pools

July 16, 2010

I am deeply disappointed in the latest announcement on women’s health by the Obama administration. No, I’m not talking about the exclusion of contraception from a newly released list of preventive health care services that insurance companies will have to cover without co-pays. (There’s still time to get it included in a separate list for women’s health.) This week, there was a second announcement: The Obama administration has voluntarily and unnecessarily decided to impose limits on private funds used to purchase health insurance coverage for abortion care in the new high-risk insurance pools.

Health care reform, also known as the Affordable Care Act, provided for the creation of high-risk insurance pools, or Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIP). People who cannot currently purchase private insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as breast cancer, AIDS, and heart disease will be able to purchase coverage through these pools until 2014, when state-based health insurance exchanges are established under the Affordable Care Act. The pools are funded by a mix of federal, state, and private funds. 

The very women who need to purchase private health insurance in the new high-risk pools are likely to be more vulnerable to medically complicated pregnancies. It is truly harmful to these women that the administration may impose limits on how they use their own private dollars, limiting their health care options at a time when they need them most. This decision has no basis in the law and flies in the face of the intent of the high-risk pools that were meant to meet the medical needs of some of the most vulnerable women in this country.

For more information on how this happened, see Jessica Arons’ piece at RH Reality Check.  To take action, NARAL Pro-Choice America has a letter you can send to President Obama demanding he change the decision immediately.

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