In their zeal to restrict abortion, House Republicans could once again put the federal government on a collision course with California over the rights the state guarantees its residents.
The GOP leadership’s healthcare bill, which is headed for a crucial vote this week, would replace the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies with new tax credits available to a broader range of Americans. But it would flatly bar the credits from being spent on any policy that covers abortions. And under California law, all insurance policies offered in the state must include such coverage.
If the House bill becomes law, insurers won’t be able to offer subsidy-eligible policies in California because they will still be legally required to offer abortion coverage. As a result, no Californian would have access to the bill’s premium assistance — even, say, a man or a 60-year-old woman who has no intention of getting an abortion. By contrast, about 90% of the Californians on the Obamacare exchange are subsidized today.
State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says he will sue the federal government if the health bill passes with this provision. We throw down with him. This is an unnecessary, even cruel measure that would hurt more than a million people trying to buy insurance. California already complies with the Affordable Care Act’s rule against using federal funds for abortion. The new proposal seeks to do nothing more than threaten the state into changing its law and, potentially, the state constitutional protections that undergird it.
We’ve seen a lot of disturbing overreach by a Republican administration and Congress hell-bent on crippling healthcare providers whose services include abortion and on throwing obstacles in the path of women trying to get a legal one. But this latest attempt is thwarting people just trying to get health insurance — all in an attempt to punish California for requiring insurers to cover a legal medical procedure. That makes it particularly outrageous. Lawmakers should scrap this provision. If they don’t, the courts should throw it out for them.
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