USA Today Abortion Q&A Leaves Out Key Answer
USA Today’s Mimi Hall published a Q&A: Abortion issue and health care bill on November 11th that does a very fair job of addressing the controversy. She could have done a little more though. The piece includes:
Q: What is the history behind the abortion-coverage ban?
A: In 1976, Congress passed a law banning the use of federal funds for abortions. The idea was that taxpayers who oppose abortion shouldn’t have to see their tax dollars used for the procedure. That ban only applies to funds distributed through the annual appropriations for the Health and Human Services Department. Money for new health insurance coverage wouldn’t be allocated that way.
This is mostly true although it leaves out the fact that the “law” passed by Congress in 1976, the Hyde Amendment, isn’t actually a law and that it has to be re-passed every year.
More importantly though, Hall’s analysis leaves out the fact that the federal government already pays for the health insurance of all federal workers, the military, and even Indian tribes. So how is abortion treated in those plans. Former Congressman Ernest Istook reports:
The FEHBP (Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan) provides the insurance for millions of federal workers, including Members of Congress. Administered through the federal Office of Personnel Management, FEHBP lets workers choose from a variety of different health insurance plans, but since1996 the law has required all of these plans to exclude abortion coverage, excepting only rape, incest and the life of the mother.
And it’s not just FEHBP. Military insurance through TRICARE does not cover abortion unless the mother’s life is at risk. Nor does the Indian Health Service.