Abortion Insurance Opt-Out
Right to Life of Michigan formed No Taxes for Abortion Insurance, a committee to initiate legislation via petition drive that directly paralleled the legislation introduced by Rep. Shirkey and Sen. Jansen. The petition drive began in June 3, 2013 and was completed on Oct. 4, 2013 with over 316,000 signatures submitted (258,088 were required under the Constitution). The signatures were certified by the State Board of Canvassers on Dec. 2, 2013, placing the initiative before the legislature (referred to as Initiated Legislation 1). The Michigan House and Senate simultaneously took up the initatiated legislation on Dec. 11, 2013. The House approved the measure by a vote of 62-47; the Senate vote was 27-11 in favor. As the measure did not require the Governor's signature, it became law upon approval by the legislature and is now known as Public Act 182 of 2013.
S.B. 137-139 were introduced on February 5, 2013, and referred to the Senate Insurance Committee. H.B. 4065-4066 were introduced on January 22, 2013 and referred to the House Committee on Insurance Policy. H.B. 4597 was introduced on April 18, 2013 and also referred to the House insurance committee.
Nearly identical legislation was vetoed by Governor Snyder on December 28, 2012, after the language for removing abortion coverage from insurance plans was inserted into bills restructuring Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. Gov. Snyder vetoed the bills on the basis that it did not have an exception for cases of rape and that the policy excessively intruded on the private insurance market.
Repeated efforts by the bill sponsors, the House and Senate leaders, Right to Life of Michigan and other supporters to negotiate a compromise proposal with the governor were engaged from January through May of 2013, but were to no avail. Right to Life of Michigan responded by forming a committee to circulate a citizen-initiated petition that would present the language of the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act to the Legislature. Under this procedure provided in the Michigan Constitution (Art. II, Sec. 9), the proposed language requires a simple majority approval in the House and Senate to become law. The proposal cannot be amended and it is not subject to the governor's approval or veto. Should the Legislature reject or fail to act on the petition, the question of adopting the law would appear on the Novermber 2014 statewide ballot.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal health care reform legislation enacted in March 2010, requires that all 50 states operate insurance "exchanges" to provide more access to health plans and information about plans for both individuals and employers. The ACA contains a provision allowing the states to exclude abortion as a covered benefit in the health insurance plans operating under the exchange. This provision is known as "the abortion opt-out."
Polls taken during the debate on health care reform consistently showed strong opposition to the funding of abortion in health insurance plans. Regardless of their views regarding the legality of abortion, the great majority of voters do not want to pay for abortions with their tax dollars in public plans, or subsidize abortion through their premium dollars in private plans. Six states currently exclude standard abortion coverage from all health care policies in those states. Abortion coverage is available only through an optional rider.
To see the detailed history of efforts to pass similar legislation in the 2011-2012 session, see the linked page here. This bill package was introduced in the 2009-2010 session by Senators Jud Gilbert, Mark Jansen and Wayne Kuipers, together with Reps. Sharon Tyler, Paul Opsommer and Brian Calley. The bills did not move out of committee during that session.
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