HHS Releases New Rule Requiring Abortion to Be Billed Separately By Obamacare Insurers

Supermajority Education Fund

January 1, 2020

On Dec. 20, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a rule that would require insurance companies operating on the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace to send separate bills for premiums covering abortion. The rule will take effect on June 27, 2020.

Twelve states and Washington, D.C. will also be required to perform eligibility verifications on people enrolled to verify they’re eligible for ACA subsidies at least twice a year from an outside source.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar released a statement on Friday, saying the move was a part of the department “being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and faithfully implementing the law.”

Azar’s statement added: “When an exchange plan covers abortions for which public funding is prohibited by federal law, this rule requires that customers receive separate bills for that abortion coverage and for the rest of their insurance. Providing these separate bills is an essential step in implementing the Affordable Care Act’s bar on tax credits going toward coverage of abortions for which public funding is prohibited. The separate billing requirement fulfills Congress’ intent and reflects President Trump’s strong commitment to preventing taxpayer funding of abortion coverage.”

Jacqueline Ayers, vice president for government relations and public policy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, criticized the rule for further siloing abortion care. “At a time when access to abortion is under concerted attack in states across the country, the Trump-Pence administration is trying to make safe, legal abortion even harder to access,” Ayers said in a statement to Supermajority News. “This rule won’t just require separate payments, it further splits off abortion from other reproductive health care and puts up massive barriers to access.”

The rule received praise from the anti-abortion nonprofit Americans United for Life (AUL). AUL Government affairs counsel Katie Glenn said in a statement to Supermajority News that the “simple and straightforward policy” can be traced back to the Hyde Amendment, which outlaws federal dollars from paying for abortions. “This rule finally implements s. 1303 of the Affordable Care Act, nearly a decade after it was enacted into law. Abortion should never be paid for with taxpayer dollars,” Glenn said.

An analysis by HHS of potential consequences of this rule included a potential increase in costs to people who must make separate payments for abortion coverage as well as the potential for lapsed coverage because of the separate billing process.

Destiny Lopez, co-director of abortion rights organization All* Above All, said in a statement that the policy will further isolate low-income women and their families. 

“This new policy from the Trump administration punishes women for seeking abortion coverage and insurers for offering comprehensive reproductive health coverage, including abortion,” Lopez said in a statement to Supermajority News. “Make no mistake–this is yet another attempt to shame, stigmatize, and financially burden women who have abortions. And the burden will fall hardest on families struggling to get by.”

Here’s the full rule from the Federal Register at the National Archives.