About a month ago, the Senate voted for legislation that would ban Wisconsin from providing abortion services in new healthcare plans created in the state Exchanges. Today, the Assembly version of the bill was heard in the Assembly Insurance Committee public hearing. Supporters of the bill argue that providing abortion services in the Exchanges should not be allowed, as some individuals covered in the Exchange would be receiving tax credits for their premiums.
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health testified today against AB 154, as it will limit the ability for women to purchase plans within the Exchange. The Alliance believes that women’s health issues should be discussed between the patient and her doctor, rather than be determined by a legislator.
Two key reasons we mentioned in our testimony against this bill were as follows:
- The use of public funding for abortion coverage is already restricted under the Affordable Care Act health insurance law, and
- This bill would restrict the use of women’s own private premium dollars to purchase the health coverage they need.
Except for in circumstances such as a women’s life being at risk, rape or incest, and when a women’s life would be severely compromised, both state and federal law already prohibit the use of public funds from being used for abortion services. Furthermore, the new healthcare law makes specific guidelines for payment of premiums if the plan covers abortion services within the Exchange; they require separate payments for the premium and abortion coverage.
There is no legitimate need for AB 154, as Wisconsin law already protects public funds from being used towards abortion services. If made into law, the creation of Wisconsin’s health Exchange – which is intended to provide comprehensive and affordable healthcare access – will now give women in our state extra hurdles to get the healthcare they need, should something arise during their pregnancy.
This bill damages the ability for a women and her doctor to make decisions about healthcare without the risk of medical debt, and it damages the ability for Wisconsin’s Exchanges to be the best they can for consumers. In a time when the state is taking measures to stop the prevention of unintended pregnancies by aiming to repeal the Healthy Youth Act –a law that ensures schools are teaching comprehensive sex education that is medically accurate – the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health thinks that this is yet another bad, and dangerous, bill for our state.