Study: Stupak Amendment Will Eliminate Abortion Coverage ‘Over Time For All Women’

UPI/Newscom
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A new study by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services adds some expert imprimatur to what many progressives have been saying all along: The Stupak amendment to the House health care bill–which will prevent millions of women from buying health insurance policies that cover abortion–is likely to have consequences that reach far beyond its supposedly intended scope.

The report concludes that “the treatment exclusions required under the Stupak/Pitts Amendment will have an industry-wide effect, eliminating coverage of medically indicated abortions over time for all women, not only those whose coverage is derived through a health insurance exchange.”

In other words, though the immediate impact of the Stupak amendment will be limited to the millions of women initially insured through a new insurance exchange, over time, as the exchanges grow, the insurance industry will scale down their abortion coverage options until they offer none at all.“As a result, Stupak/Pitts can be expected to move the industry away from current norms of coverage for medically indicated abortions. In combination with the Hyde Amendment, Stupak/Pitts will impose a coverage exclusion for medically indicated abortions on such a widespread basis that the health benefit services industry can be expected to recalibrate product design downward across the board in order to accommodate the exclusion in selected markets.”

Furthermore the study finds that the supposed fallback option for impacted women–a “rider” policy that provides supplemental coverage for abortions only–may not even be allowed under the terms of the law. “In our view, the terms and impact of the Amendment will work to defeat the development of a supplemental coverage market for medically indicated abortions. In any supplemental coverage arrangement, it is essential that the supplemental coverage be administered in conjunction with basic coverage. This intertwined administration approach is barred under Stupak/Pitts because of the prohibition against financial comingling.”

The authors also note that though the direct impact of the Stupak amendment on women who receive insurance from their employers will be initially minimal, the provision’s tentacles could nonetheless reach into the employer-provided insurance market, too, “further driv[ing] the industry to shift away from current abortion coverage norms and toward product designs that meet exchange and Hyde Amendment requirements.”

You can read the entire report here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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