Group wants health plans without abortion coverage

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A national anti-abortion group is pressing the state's health insurance marketplace to offer plans that don't cover abortion services, saying that failing to do so is "blatantly violating" the rights of those who object to the procedure.

In a recent letter to Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Democrats For Life of America said it is "gravely concerned" that all 28 of the individual and small group plans available through HealthSource RI in 2014 offer coverage for elective abortion.

Executive Director Kristen Day said Friday her group supports the federal health care overhaul but alternative health plans should be available for those who object to abortion on religious or other grounds.

"People who oppose abortion shouldn't be forced to pay for it or be involved with it," she said.

The group is encouraging Chafee to work with the insurers selling plans on the state-run exchange — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, UnitedHealthcare and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island — to provide at least one such plan.

"You would thereby honor the conscience rights of individuals in your state while continuing your good effort to provide affordable health care for all," the Nov. 12 letter said.

Some states have banned abortion coverage for plans being sold on the exchanges, which are a centerpiece of the federal Affordable Care Act. The law requires there be at least one plan that doesn't include abortion coverage for each state by 2017.

Insurers also have to create separate accounts that segregate premium payments for abortion services from premiums for everything else.

HealthSource RI spokeswoman Dara Chadwick said Friday that all individual and small group plans in Rhode Island included coverage for comprehensive women's reproductive health services, including abortion, before the federal health care law was passed.

The exchange "does not change this in any way, including the long-standing rule that no federal or state funds can be used for elective abortion," she said.

Chadwick said the state is in full compliance with federal law in segregating the amount required — at least $1 of the monthly premium — to ensure no public dollars are being used.

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