WASHINGTON — A bipartisan coalition sought to impose stricter abortion limits on insurance sold under a new health care bill Saturday, hoping to leave their imprint on legislation otherwise crafted largely by more liberal lawmakers.
Here is how coverage of abortion would work under their proposal, which applies to policies sold in a federally regulated insurance exchange that would be set up in 2013. The bill envisions both private companies and the government offering policies in the exchange.
The amendment, written by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., would bar the new government insurance plan from covering abortions, except in cases of rape or incest or where the life of the woman is in danger. The Democrats' original legislation would have allowed the government plan to cover abortions.
The amendment, which the House approved Saturday night, also would prohibit people who receive new federal health subsidies from buying insurance plans that include abortion coverage.
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The Democrats' original bill would have allowed people getting federal subsidies to pay for abortion coverage with their own money. Abortion opponents dismissed that as an accounting gimmick.
Under the amendment, people who do not receive federal insurance subsidies could buy private insurance plans in the exchange that include abortion coverage. People who receive federal subsidies could buy separate policies covering abortions only if they use only their own money to do it.
Companies selling insurance policies covering abortions would be required to offer identical policies without the abortion coverage.
Abortion-rights supporters say private insurers will not likely offer policies with abortion coverage in the exchange because many potential buyers will be getting federal subsidies.
Around 21 million people are expected to get coverage through the exchange by 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The majority of Americans who get their insurance coverage from their employers would not be affected.
Abortion-rights supporters say the restrictions in the amendment go further than current law.
A law called the Hyde amendment — which must be renewed annually — bars federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape or incest or if the woman's life is in danger. The restrictions apply to Medicaid, forcing states that cover abortions for low-income women to pay for them with state revenue.