Additional Steps Needed to Separate Abortion Coverage From Taxpayer-Supported Health-Care Plans

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker wrote to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to request the Administration take additional steps to mitigate Obamacare’s unprecedented expansion of abortion coverage. Wicker’s letter was signed by 18 other U.S. Senators. Wicker and his colleagues criticized Obama-era regulations that failed to enforce Section 1303 of Obamacare, which requires insurers offering abortion coverage to collect a separate payment for that coverage.

The Senators wrote in part, “The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should issue new regulations aligning with legislative intent that insurance companies comply with and collect the abortion surcharge separately. Faithfully applying the law as written through new regulations will improve consumer awareness of the abortion surcharge.”


They went on to say, “As long as Section 1303 is implemented through current Obama-era regulations, its enforcement will remain sorely deficient.”

Wicker’s letter was signed by U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Deb Fischer, R-Neb., John Hoeven, R-N.D., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., James Risch, R-Idaho, Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., John Thune, R-S.D., and Todd Young, R-Ind.

Click here for a PDF copy of the full letter, the text of which is available below:

Dear Secretary Azar,

 The 2010 enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), also known as Obamacare, broke with the longstanding safeguards of the Hyde Amendment. For more than 40 years, the Hyde Amendment prohibited federal funding for elective abortions and health insurance plans that include coverage for elective abortions. Since that time, legislative proposals like No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Insurance Full Disclosure Act (S. 184) have been introduced in the Senate to remedy this severe problem with Obamacare. Until S. 184 is enacted into law, the Administration must take steps to mitigate Obamacare’s unprecedented expansion of abortion coverage.

In an effort to subvert the Hyde Amendment, Democrats established separate abortion accounting requirements in Section 1303 of Obamacare (42 U.S.C. § 18023). If an insurance issuer elects to offer abortion coverage, Section 1303 requires separate payment of at least $1 per enrollee per month as an abortion surcharge. While a plain reading of the statute makes clear that this surcharge must be separate from other payments, the Obama Administration failed to enforce Section 1303 and undermined the segregation of funds requirement through permissive regulations.  

While we welcomed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ October 2017 guidance regarding enforcement of Section 1303, meaningful enforcement requires new regulations. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should issue new regulations aligning with legislative intent that insurance companies comply with and collect the abortion surcharge separately. Faithfully applying the law as written through new regulations will improve consumer awareness of the abortion surcharge.

The federal government should not provide taxpayer funding for abortion-covering plans. However, until this procedure that is morally opposed by a significant number of Americans is eliminated from Obamacare, HHS must enforce the law as written. As long as Section 1303 is implemented through current Obama-era regulations, its enforcement will remain sorely deficient. 

Senator Roger Wicker Press Release

9/7/2018