In a comment on my blog post from this morning, reader Michael Liddy points out that the Stupak Amendment does not, in fact, prohibit insurance companies from offering plans in the exchanges that cover abortion. It only requires that the companies offer an identical plan that does not cover abortion as well. Thanks for the comment Mr. Liddy and let me clarify the Stupak language.
You are right that the Amendment does not legally ban the offering of privately purchased plans that cover abortion in the exchanges. But, this is a distinction without a difference because the actuaries for the insurance companies, who are party to the negotiations for a reason, estimate that only 20% of those entering the exchanges will not be eligible for a subsidy. Of that 20% only a certain percentage will be women of child-bearing age, and so the pool of those participating in the plans would be too small to subdivide even further into those who want abortion coverage and those who don’t. So, Mr. Liddy you are correct that the Stupak language does not technically forbid it, but the reality of the insurance market does.
All summer I got into shouting matches with some of my pro-choice friends who insisted that the Capps Amendment took care of the issue of public funding. All summer, I said that it didn’t, that it was too-cute-by-half. It would be wrong of us on the pro-life side to try and be too cute about the consequence of the Stupak language in the real world. I am still worried that the backlash may be strong enough to carry us backwards in ways we do not want to go. There are plenty of members who would like to overturn the Hyde Amendment. Prudence is a virtue.