On March 23, 2012, supporters from both sides of the abortion issue share the sidewalk next to the Planned Parenthood clinic in West Glenwood, Colo. (Kelley Cox/Glenwood Springs Post Independent via AP)

“California is really in a bind here”

A California law requiring all health plans cover abortions is set to collide with federal Affordable Care Act repeal efforts that would cut federal subsidies for health plans that pay for the procedure.

State officials and health advocates have pledged to fight a stipulation of the Republican-authored American Health Care Act that could deprive 1.4 million Californians of the federal tax credits that help them afford coverage on the Covered California health exchange.

Abortion is considered a basic health service under California law, and all plans regulated by the Department of Managed Health Care are required to cover it. That includes plans offered through the Covered California exchange. About 90 percent of the 1.4 million Californians insured through the exchange receive tax credits to offset the cost of care.

Under the new health care bill, people with any plan covering abortions, other than in instances of rape, incest and life-threatening medical situations, couldn’t receive those subsidies. All 11 health plans offered through Covered California would be cut off.

“California is really in a bind here,” said Amy Chen, staff attorney in the Los Angeles office of the National Health Law Program, a legal organization that advocates for the health rights of low-income people. “It creates an untenable situation because almost no one would be eligible for these tax credits.”

The average enrollee in Covered California plans received $3,500 in credits in 2016, while the average household received $5,300. Without those subsidies, many people would be priced out of coverage, Chen said.

In other states, where abortion coverage is not required, some marketplace plans will likely drop the benefit in favor of the subsidy. California is the only state requiring health plans pay for abortions.

Full story at Sacramento Bee.

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