Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center explains that dictating what insurers cover and what their copays and deductibles look like impacts all those who buy insurance and pay premiums in Washington state
Washington Policy Center
Senate Bill 5242, prohibiting cost-sharing for abortions, and Senate Joint Resolution 8202, amending the state Constitution to reassure abortion is a right “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” as committee chair Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, put it, were just approved by the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee. The bills now move forward for fuller consideration by lawmakers.
The amendment to the Washington state Constitution was voted on before SB 5242, and it didn’t get approved without some last words of caution, disappointment and explanation for coming “no” votes. The four Republican members on the 10-person committee all had something to say. Watch the hearing on TVW.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said we know more today about the humanity of the unborn, and this amendment would prohibit future legislation protecting them from abortion because of their gender or a down-syndrome diagnosis. “We’re better than this constitutional amendment as a society,” he concluded.
Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, echoed the “better than” sentiment, but in relation to how lawmakers with different opinions were being treated because of their beliefs about abortion and human life. He said that while he believes abortion is a personal, moral decision and would never overturn voters’ already existing initiative-will on this issue, he resents being compared to “a bank robber” because of his beliefs.
Washington Policy Center was interested in the committee’s hearing today for a range of scope-of-practice bills that were being heard and to see the outcome of the legislation that would prohibit cost-sharing for abortions.
The rising cost of health care is a concern to most Washingtonians, and government regulations add to those costs. Dictating what insurers cover and what their copays and deductibles look like impacts all those who buy insurance and pay premiums in Washington state.
Supporters of no cost-sharing for abortions say that abortion shouldn’t be impacted by one’s ability to pay. How far does that argument go? To how many health services? And should the government be deciding?
Right now, Washington state requires state-regulated plans to cover abortion, but it allows them to apply the plan’s regular deductible, coinsurance and/or copay. SB 5242 (and a companion bill, House Bill 1115) would require state-regulated health plans in Washington state to cover abortion with no cost-sharing charges to an enrollee.
Read more about how the states differ in their approaches to insurance requirements for abortion services here.
Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and the director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is a Clark County resident.
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