- (Photo:Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)
Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley urged members of Congress to support the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would require health plans to disclose if they subsidize abortion coverage. O'Malley's support comes days after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pleaded ignorance on abortion funds.
In a Nov. 1 letter to House members, O'Malley, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the bill requiring the HHS to provide all the insurance details to exchange shoppers up front will address "one part of the abortion-related problem" in Obama's health care law.
"Under the ACA [Affordable Care Act or "ObamaCare], unless state law requires otherwise, each insurer may choose whether to include elective abortions in the health plans it offers on a state health exchange," the cardinal wrote. "If the insurer does cover such abortions, the overall health plan may still receive federal tax subsidies; and every enrollee -- regardless of age, sex, or conscientious objection – must make a separate payment solely to cover other enrollees' abortions."
This violates the policies governing all other federal health programs, Cardinal O'Malley added. "In no other program may federal funds subsidize any part of a health plan that covers such abortions; and nowhere else does the federal government forbid insurers to allow an 'opt-out' from such coverage on conscience grounds."
The archbishop denounced the health care law's unique secrecy provisions. "… Not only may pro-life people have a very limited choice of health plans that do not violate their consciences – but the law makes it all but impossible for them to find out which plans they are," he said.
On Wednesday, Sebelius testified during a House energy and commerce committee hearing on the health care law. During the hearing, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) told her that his pro-life constituents were unable to identify which plans in the state health exchanges did not include abortion.
Shimkus also asked if the plans could possibly be identified, adding his committee wanted a list of health insurance plans that did not provide abortion benefits. Sebelius responded claiming she did not "know" the answer. "I can't tell you what I don't know firmly right now... I will get that information," she said.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, blasted her for pleading ignorance. "Are we really supposed to believe that one of the most zealous abortion supporters in the Obama administration doesn't know which plans cover the procedure she's spent so much of her career advocating?" asked Perkins in his "Washington Update."
"That a woman who fought for late-term abortions in Kansas (and threw a Governor's mansion party for the criminal performing them) would be in the dark after three years about whether the network she oversees is covering her pet cause? Give me a break," Perkins said. "Americans deserve to know which plans cover the procedure before they enroll."
Sebelius is claimed she didn't know "what she so clearly knew in 2009, which is that ObamaCare is the biggest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion in U.S. history," Perkins pointed out. The onus shouldn't be on citizens to force the government to comply with its law on taxpayer-funded abortion, it should be on HHS, he said.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) sponsored the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which seeks to ensure full disclosure of abortion coverage by requiring prominent and transparent disclosure of abortion coverage for each plan offered on an exchange. It was cosponsored by 70 other members of the House.