Sen. Hyde-Smith Championed Effort to Replace Obama-era Rule on Abortion Services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today praised a move by the Trump administration to finalize a rule to end a hidden surcharge within many health plans that funds elective abortion services.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday morning issued the final rule to overturn an Obama-era rule that permitted some Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plans to include an abortion surcharge—an act completely counter to congressional intent when Obamacare became law.

“I am grateful to President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar for taking action to overturn the Obama administration’s willful misinterpretation of the law by secretly collecting a surcharge for abortion services from people who would never support abortions,” Hyde-Smith said.  “This rule is long overdue and should ensure that Obamacare recipients are not unknowingly subsidizing abortions.”

The final rule, titled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Exchange Program Integrity,” will ensure that separate payments are required for ACA health plans that cover elective abortion services.  In implementing Obamacare, the Obama administration allowed abortion fees payments with other premium payments—in direct violation of a congressional directive that requires separate payments under ACA Section 1301.

In July, Hyde-Smith and Congressman Michael Cloud (R-Texas) spearheaded a bicameral letter signed by 25 Senators and 103 Representatives that urged HHS to act swiftly to finalize the rule to end a hidden abortion surcharge.

Regrettably, HHS issued the final rule after the close of the 2020 open enrollment period for Obamacare health plans.  The rule will be in place for plan year 2021. 

HHS information on the final rule, including a fact sheet, is available here