Senate and House Lawmakers Press HHS to End Hidden Abortion Surcharge

Sen. Hyde-Smith & Rep. Cloud Lead Letter Seeking Swift Action to Replace Obama-era Rule on Abortion Services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate and House lawmakers, led by U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Congressman Michael Cloud (R-Texas), today pressed the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) to quickly finalize a rule to end a hidden surcharge within many health plans that funds elective abortion services.

Hyde-Smith and Cloud sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, signed by 25 Senators and 103 Representatives, that stresses the importance of swiftly replacing an Obama-era rule that violates congressional directives in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to keep abortion service charges separate from other premium payments.

“There is an urgency to ensure people are not unknowingly supporting abortions if they’re enrolled in ACA health plans.  The Obama administration strayed far from the law by allowing hidden abortion surcharges on people who would never condone their hard-earned money going to support abortions,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The regulations need to be corrected as soon as possible.”

“Taxpayer money should never be used to take innocent lives, and Obamacare passed with the promise that taxpayers would not have to subsidize another person’s abortion,” said Cloud.  “Nevertheless, these hidden abortion surcharges were pushed upon Americans who would have objected had they known.”

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Congressmen Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), and Michael Guest (R-Miss.).

A proposed HHS rule, titled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Exchange Program Integrity,” would enforce the separate payment requirement for ACA health plans that cover elective abortion services.  While Congress required separate payments under ACA Section 1303, the Obama administration allowed such abortion fees to be paid together with other premium payments.

“This misinterpretation of the law created a hidden abortion surcharge in many health care plans on exchanges throughout the nation, requiring enrollees to—in some cases unknowingly—subsidize elective abortion,” the letter to Azar said.

“We continue to urge swift action to finalize the rule in time for 2020 Open Enrollment.  Failing to do so will result in another year of noncompliance with the requirements of Section 1303.  It is time for the Obama-era regulation to be replaced,” the letter concluded.

 

Senators signing the letter include:  Hyde-Smith, Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

Members of Congress signing the letter include:  Cloud, Steve Scalise (R-La.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Daniel Lipinksi (D-Ill.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), David Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Randy Weber (R-Texas), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.), Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), Bruce Westerman (R-Ariz.), Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), Ross Spano (R-Fla.), Michael Guest (R-Miss.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), William Timmons, IV (R-S.C.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R-La.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Lance Gooden (R-Texas), Ron Wright (R-Texas), W. Gregory Steube (R-Fla.), David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), Mark Green, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Ben Cline (R-Va.), Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), Steve Watkins (R-Kan.), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), John Rose (R-Tenn.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), Kevin Brady (R-Texas), James Comer (R-Ky.), Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Ron Estes (R-Kan.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Ted Yoho, D.V.M. (R-Fla.), Paul Gosar, D.D.S. (R-Ariz.), Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Roger Williams (R-Texas), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Tom Graves (R-Ga.), Pete Olson (R-Texas), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Andy Harris, M.D. (R-Md.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Rick Allen (R-Ga.), Jason Smith (R-Mo.), Rick Crawford (R-Ariz.), Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.), Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), Billy Long (R-Mo.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), David Rouzer (R-N.C.), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Robert Latta (R-Ohio), Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Carol Miller (R-W.Va.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) .

A copy of the letter is available here.