Congressmen Duncan, Cloud Lead Effort to End Hidden Abortion Surcharge
Congressmen Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and Michael Cloud (R-TX) led a letter signed by 81 Members of Congress calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to put an end to the hidden abortion surcharge in many Obamacare plans before Open Enrollment begins on November 1st.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) departed from the federal government’s long-time practice of prohibiting direct taxpayer funding of elective abortions by providing taxpayer-funded subsidies to buy abortion-covering health insurance plans. However, the law required anyone purchasing a plan to make two separate payments, one of which was known as an “abortion surcharge” and had to be deposited into “a separate account that…is used exclusively to pay” for elective abortions. This would prevent taxpayer money from directly covering abortions and provide transparency by separating out the collection of the abortion surcharge for enrollees to see.
The Obama Administration, however, ignored the plain meaning of the law and interpreted “separate” to mean “together,” allowing insurance providers to collect a single payment while effectively hiding the abortion surcharge from enrollees without their knowledge.
This marks the third time this year that Congress has called for HHS to conclude the process of eliminating the hidden abortion surcharge. Congress’s previous calls to action included a January letter signed by 50 members of Congress and a July bicameral letter signed by 103 Members of Congress and 25 U.S. Senators. In response to these previous efforts, HHS Sec. Alex Azar had announced plans to end this hidden abortion surcharge and replace the Obama-era rule to restore the original intent of the ACA. Today’s letter to Sec. Azar reiterated the urgency of finalizing this rule before the 2020 Open Enrollment begins for ACA health insurance plans in one week. If this rule is not made final before November 1st, health insurance plans will be able to continue billing the hidden abortion surcharge through 2020.
“President Trump and Vice President Pence have been fighters for the unborn, and I applaud the entire Trump Administration for their committed efforts to advance pro-life policies in our country,” said Congressman Duncan. “I’m also hopeful that yet another pro-life win is in the works by finalizing a rule to ensure tax dollars are not funding abortions in insurance plans through the broken Obamacare exchange. Finalization of this rule would put Americans at ease who do not want their money to promote or participate in the heinous act of abortion. I want to thank HHS for their work so far, and I am hopeful for more good news to come.” View Congressman Duncan’s recent comments on this issue in the House Energy and Commerce Committee HERE.
“Obamacare passed with the promise that taxpayers would not have to subsidize abortion,” said Congressman Cloud. “Yet hidden abortion surcharges were still included. Without realizing it, many people’s hard-earned dollars have supported abortion. This needs to stop and time is running out. Unborn children have a right to life and taxpayer money should never be used to take that right away.”
Congressmen Duncan and Cloud, along with the other Members of Congress who signed the letter, urged swift action to end the hidden abortion surcharge and require compliance with the plain meaning of the ACA before the 2020 Open Enrollment period begins.
A copy of the letter is available HERE.