The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Nation & World

August 16, 2013

Abortion coverage for Congress under health law?

WASHINGTON — The politics of the abortion debate are always tricky for lawmakers. They may soon get personal.

An attempt to fix a problem with the national health care law has created a situation in which members of Congress and their staffers could gain access to abortion coverage. That’s a benefit currently denied to them and to all federal employees who get health insurance through the government’s plan.

Abortion opponents say the Obama administration needs to fix the congressional exception; abortion rights supporters say such concerns are overblown.

The abortion complication is another headache for the administration as it tries to shoehorn members of Congress and certain staffers into insurance markets coming later this year under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

An amendment by Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley — who opposes “Obamacare” and abortion — requires lawmakers and their personal staff to get private coverage through the same markets that uninsured Americans will use.

Last week, the Office of Personnel Management said the government would keep paying its share of premiums for lawmakers and affected staffers who must leave the federal employee health care system by Jan. 1. That eased a major anxiety for several thousand staffers accustomed to getting the same benefits as other federal employees.

But the proposed regulation did not explicitly address abortion coverage. Under the health care law, insurance plans in the new markets may cover abortion unless a state passes a law prohibiting them from doing so. Plans offering coverage for abortion, however, may not use federal funds to pay for it. Federal tax credits to help the uninsured afford coverage must be kept apart from premiums collected for abortion coverage.

Abortion opponents say the regulation would circumvent a longstanding law that bars the use of taxpayer funds for “administrative expenses in connection with any health plan under the federal employees health benefits program which provides any benefits or coverage for abortions.” Unlike many private corporate plans, federal employee plans only cover abortions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

Text Only
Nation & World
  • Holder bringing personal perspective to Ferguson

     Eric Holder talks about the nation's civil rights struggles in a way no previous U.S. attorney general could — by telling his own family story.

    August 20, 2014

  • Senate control could rest with well-funded women

    Control of the Senate could lie in the fortunes of female candidates and the deep-pocketed donors, like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who are sending piles of cash their way.

    August 20, 2014

  • Iraq forces retake Mosul Dam; militants deny claim

    Boosted by two days of U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi and Kurdish forces on Monday wrested back control of the country's largest dam from Islamic militants, a military spokesman in Baghdad said as fighting was reported to be underway for the rest of the strategic complex.

    August 18, 2014

  • US stocks open higher; Family Dollar jumps

     U.S. stocks are opening higher, following gains in Europe.

    August 18, 2014

  • Federal autopsy ordered in Missouri teen's death

    Attorney General Eric Holder on Sunday ordered a federal medical examiner to perform another autopsy on a black Missouri teenager whose fatal shooting by a white police officer has spurred a week of rancorous and sometimes-violent protests in suburban St. Louis.

    August 17, 2014

  • news_missingamish.jpg Official: Amish girls sexually abused in abduction

    Two young Amish sisters were sexually abused after their abduction from a roadside farm stand in northern New York, a prosecutor said Saturday.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ukraine [Duplicate] Ukraine says troops entered rebel-held city

    Ukraine's government said Sunday that separatists shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane after army troops entered deep inside a rebel-controlled city in the east in what could prove a breakthrough development in the four-month long conflict.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_ferguson.jpg Governor declares emergency, sets Ferguson curfew

    Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew Saturday in a St. Louis suburb where police and protesters have clashed in the week since a black teenager was shot to death by a white police officer.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_rickperry.jpg Perry is latest 2016 GOP hopeful facing legal trouble

    As they form exploratory committees and begin hiring staff in key presidential battleground states, three potential Republican White House candidates also face the distraction of legal troubles back at home. The latest is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who following his indictment on two felony charges, is staring at the most serious accusations of wrongdoing by a prominent Republican governor openly considering a run for president.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Missing Amish Girls_Mile.jpg Sheriff: Pair may have plotted to kidnap more kids

    A couple accused of kidnapping two young Amish sisters were prowling for easy targets and may have also planned to abduct other children, a sheriff said Saturday.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo