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The governor seeks to tell health insurance companies what they cannot cover.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
In one succinct amendment, Gov. Bob McDonnell fired the next salvo in Virginia’s war on both affordable health insurance and women.
McDonnell offered an amendment that seeks to outlaw any private health insurance company from covering abortions in policies obtained by private individuals and private companies through a health care exchange that the state wants nothing to do with. Insurance companies participating in the federally run exchange in Virginia would be barred even from offering this as optional coverage.
Though McDonnell insisted Virginia stay an arm’s length away from the Affordable Care Act, he left an ugly thumbprint on the health care exchange that will help individuals and small businesses purchase affordable insurance.
When lawmakers return to Richmond, they need to bring the disinfectant and wipe clean the bill that seeks to conform Virginia laws regulating health insurance companies to federal law — a law tested and approved by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Perhaps McDonnell wanted to slip through this amendment without gaining notice (he did not send out a news release trumpeting his blow for anti-abortionists). But women and those who care for and about them need to strongly oppose his meddling in their health care. And those who abhor unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations should join them. Already, insurers are permitted to not offer this coverage all on their own.
The governor ceded his power to influence the health care exchange when he refused to allow the state to design a system that would best serve Virginians. Lawmakers willingly went along.
Legislators previously agreed to operate Virginia’s exchange and included restrictions on coverage for abortion. By handing over management to the federal government, they relinquish authority to pick and choose which lawful medical procedures can be covered by health insurers. Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, sponsor of an insurance bill amended by the governor, objects to the change, arguing that it imposes stricter rules than those applied to patients with Medicaid coverage.
If McDonnell’s amendment stands, the federal government and private insurers should pay it all the due respect the governor has shown women and the marketplace.
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