Sunday, May 09, 2010

Tennessee Bans All Abortion Coverage In Its State Health Insurance Exchange

Remember one of the main selling points touted by supporters of the recently enacted health insurance legislation, "Sure it's a bad law but, hey, at least it's a first step, one we can build on and improve in the future?"

Well, I'm happy to report these sage supporters were correct. The future is here and so are the, you know, improvements to the health insurance legislation:

A Tennessee bill (SB 2686) to bar health plans that offer abortion coverage from participating in the state health insurance exchanges to be created under the new federal health reform law (PL 111-148) will become law because Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) declined to take action on the measure, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. As a result, Tennessee becomes the second state after Arizona to bar abortion coverage in its state health insurance exchange. Unlike Arizona's law, the text of the Tennessee measure does not specifically mention exceptions for cases of rape, incest or threat to the woman's life. The General Assembly approved the bill two weeks ago (Bregel, Chattanooga Times Free Press, 5/6). In a letter to legislative leaders explaining his decision, Bredesen cited the lack of exceptions and said he hopes the Legislature will reconsider the issue before the exchanges take effect in 2014, the Knoxville News-Sentinel's "Humphrey on the Hill" reports. Bredesen wrote, "Instead of prudently ensuring that existing prohibitions on the use of public funds for abortions are applied to the operation of health care exchanges, this bill will impose a broad new restriction on the private insurance market and damage our ability to serve our citizens, including many who are opposed to abortion and would have no interest in that specific coverage." He added, "Moreover this new restriction on private companies would not provide longstanding reasonable exceptions for cases of rape, incest and protection of the lives of mothers" (Humphrey, "Humphrey on the Hill," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 5/5).

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At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Polly Scanlon said...

This legislation is a travesty and one more indication that the Tennessee General Assembly cares little for the rights and health care needs of its mothers and daughters. Tennessee has one of the highest rates of incest in the U.S. and the joke that "my pedigree is a a straight line" is not a joke in Tennessee. Because the federal exceptions in current law are not recognized and included, what the authors of the bill may have done is intentionally bar Tennessee from access to any and all federal funds for the financing of the Health Insurance Exchanges - thereby disenfranchising its citizens from health care insurance coverage. The Tennessee General Assembly should be ashamed of itself.


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