RI Senate passes health insurance exchange bill despite flap over abortion amendment
It’s official. The Rhode Island Senate today passed bill 2011-S 0087A, which would create a “public corporation” to design the state’s health insurance exchange. The vote was 31-6, with one member not voting.
Among the more notable and surprising people that voted “No” was Senator Josh Miller, an active participant in reforming the state’s health care system. When I asked him why, he said he was against an amendment to the bill that would restrict access to abortions.
This amendment was originally described to me as a restating of federal regulations related to abortions on the health insurance exchange. Senator Miller says apparently that’s not true. Here’s the full text of that amendment-
No health plan under which coverage is purchased in whole or in part with any state or federal funds through the exchange, shall provide coverage for induced abortions, except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Coverage is deemed to be purchased with state or federal funds if any tax credit or cost sharing credit is applied toward the health plan. This subsection does not prevent an insurer from providing any person or entity with an optional rider, for which there must be paid a separate premium for induced abortions; providing, however, that such coverage is not purchased in whole or part with any state or federal funds.
Senator Miller says there weren’t enough votes to pass an amendment to change this amendment, so it was withdrawn. Here’s the list of everyone who voted against the legislation-
The bill now heads to a hearing in the House Health Education, and Welfare Committee on Wednesday the 13th. I’m still investigating what might happen with this abortion amendment.