The Stupak and Nelson Amendments – Know the Facts

The Stupak amendment (aka the Stupak – Pitts amendment) is the anti-abortion amendment included in the House of Representatives Health Care bill. The Nelson amendment is the anti-abortion amendment included in the Senate bill.

The Nelson Amendment IS the Stupak Amendment with Window Dressing!
The Stupak amendment and the Nelson amendment are one and the same. The only difference is that the Stupak amendment bans abortion coverage outright while the Nelson amendment does it by placing such onerous obstacles in the path of insurance companies that they cannot afford to provide coverage.

The Stupak amendment bans any abortion coverage completely from the insurance exchanges that would be established by health reform to provide affordable health coverage. This includes both the private plans in the exchange and the so-called “public option,” which would be the government-run alternative to costly private insurance plans. Even women buying insurance with their own private money will not be able to get a plan that covers abortion. Instead, they will have to buy a separate abortion “rider” to the plan at an extra cost.

This dangerous amendment undermines the ability of millions of women to purchase private health insurance that covers abortion, even if women pay for all or most of the premiums with their own money. This amendment reaches much further than the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited public funding of abortion in most instances since 1977.

Under The Nelson amendment:
Any state can prohibit insurance companies from providing abortion coverage in the insurance exchanges they will be setting up. That would affect private plans offered through the exchange, and it would affect all women getting insurance through the exchange whether they receive subsidies or not.
Any person enrolled in an insurance plan that covers abortion must write two separate checks for payments – one to pay for the cost of the abortion services in the plan and another for the rest of the services. It’s not called a rider, but it acts like one! It will create some of the same barriers that making abortion coverage available through riders would have.
Also forget about privacy! Any person working in a bank or insurance company will easily know who has opted for abortion coverage, and let’s hope that that person is not an anti-choice extremist. Remember how they have posted pictures of people entering abortion clinics on the web. Here’s a new way to intimidate.
Then comes the challenge for the insurance companies:
Insurance plans have to estimate the cost of abortion coverage and segregate the funds received to pay for that coverage. The estimate must not be less than $1 per enrollee, per month. State insurance commissioners must ensure that plans are complying with the requirement to segregate funds.

Plans that cover abortion must provide consumers with notice of that coverage as part of the summary of benefits and coverage explanation, at the time of enrollment.

Health plans cannot discriminate against providers or facilities because they’re unwilling to provide abortion. (This appears to protect anti-choicers but not pro-choice providers—another double standard!)

Analysis of the Nelson amendment by Prof. Sara Rosenbaum, George Washington University School of Public Health & Health Services:
The Nelson abortion provision “extends beyond the Hyde amendment” and “can be expected to have a significant impact on the ability or willingness of insurance issuers to offer Exchange products that cover a full range of medically indicated abortions.” In addition, the analysis states that the amendment could have “spillover effects” into the health care marketplace beyond the Exchange.

“For several reasons this provision could be expected to chill issuers’ willingness to sell products that cover a range of medically indicated abortions. They would have to comply with complex audit standards and more importantly, they would have to collect an additional fee from each member of their plan, a step that could be expected to encounter broad resistance. (It is also not clear what the consequences would be for plan members who do not make the payment or whether non-payment would place them in arrears). The more logical response would be not to sell products that cover abortion services.”

Both amendments turn the clock back on women. They are anti-choice, anti-woman, and anti-health care reform!

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