Maloney Condemns Abortion Restrictions for High-risk Pools

Jul 22, 2010
Press Release
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) condemns the Obama Administration’s decision to deny women who enroll in high-risk pools the right to abortion coverage except in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.  There is no exception for the health of the mother.  Congresswoman Maloney sent a letter to President Obama urging him to repeal the rules.  

In her letter, she says “Historically, there has been a consensus that women who need abortions to save their lives and preserve their health should be able to get them.  This Health and Human Services ruling undercuts that consensus and undermines women's health....In particular your decision will hurt women with pre-existing conditions who are most vulnerable for high-risk pregnancies, the very women who may need to terminate their pregnancies because of the risk it poses to their own health.”

    The full letter follows.

Background

    The landmark health care reform legislation established Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIPs or high risk pools), which will temporarily insure individuals who currently cannot purchase health insurance because they have serious medical conditions.  The PCIPs will be eliminated once the health care exchanges are established in 2014.  To enroll, an individual must have a pre-existing condition and be uninsured for 6 months.  The health care reform bill included restrictions on abortions for the exchanges that will be established in 2014, but did not expressly extend those restrictions to these temporary high risk pools.

    In addition to the PCIP established by the federal government, individual states can establish PCIPs. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is directly administering the program in 21 states, while 29 states and the District of Columbia will administer the PCIPs through their own programs.  Several state plans initially included coverage for abortion procedures.  Certain anti-choice advocates objected and on July 14, 2010, HHS issued a “clarification” that abortions are excluded from coverage under a PCIP, whether the PCIP is run by the federal government or by individual states.


FULL TEXT OF MALONEY’S LETTER BELOW OR PDF HERE:

Dear President Obama,

I am deeply concerned by your recent decision to exclude abortion coverage from high-risk pools. Historically, there has been a consensus that women who need abortions to save their lives and preserve their health should be able to get them.  This Health and Human Services ruling undercuts that consensus and undermines women's health.
 
In particular your decision will hurt women with pre-existing conditions who are most vulnerable for high-risk pregnancies, the very women who may need to terminate their pregnancies because of the risk it poses to their own health.  In addition, I believe this rule goes beyond current law and further erodes women's right to purchase abortion coverage with their own private funds. 

High-risk pools were designed to be a transitional program as the federal government works to create the health insurance exchanges which will take effect in 2014 - not a forum to further roll back a woman's right to choose.  I am concerned that this rule treats abortion care differently than any other medical procedure in the new high-risk pools.  Though I recognize that once the Exchange is operational, women will have the option to choose a plan that includes abortion coverage, albeit with the Executive Order in effect and the "Nelson" language applied, I feel strongly that this new rule sets a troublesome precedent for future action and urge you to repeal it.

Sincerely,


CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress

Issues: