Archive for Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Health insurance coverage for abortions still an issue for Kansas legislators

May 11, 2011, 7:08 a.m. Updated May 11, 2011, 5:41 p.m.

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— The fate of a proposal in Kansas to restrict private health insurance coverage for abortions became tied up Wednesday in state legislators' negotiations over obscure regulatory bills as they try to wind up their annual legislative session.

Three senators and three House members resumed talks Wednesday over various insurance issues, including the one on abortion. They didn't make much progress during a brief meeting but were continuing the talks.

Their haggling has benefited abortion opponents, who would otherwise have little or no chance of getting the proposal passed this year. But time was running short: Wednesday was the 89th day of legislators' annual session, out of 90 scheduled.

Abortion opponents want to prohibit insurance companies from automatically including coverage for abortions in their health plans, other than procedures necessary to save a pregnant woman's life. Companies would have to offer abortion-only coverage in separate policies, a requirement long in place in Missouri.

The House Insurance Committee endorsed such a bill, but it died in March when the full House failed to debate it before a key deadline. The Senate hasn't discussed the issue, but its negotiators are willing to tuck it into another bill — provided they get enough concessions on insurance issues from House negotiators.

Otherwise, said lead Senate negotiator Ruth Teichman, a Stafford Republican, "There is no reason for me to allow any language that has not passed either house."

That would be an unusual disappointment for abortion opponents, who've won the enactment of new restrictions on late-term abortions and passage of new requirements for physicians and abortion clinics since Gov. Sam Brownback, an anti-abortion Republican, took office in January.

Yet abortion-rights supporters are frustrated. The Legislature's rules have a provision designed to prevent House and Senate negotiators from discussing a proposal unless a version of it has passed at least one chamber.

"It's frustrating that the Legislature has other matters to tend to, but they want to tend to the matters between women and their doctors and their insurance companies," said Julie Burkhart, founder of the abortion-rights political action committee Trust Women, which lobbies in several states, including Kansas. "It just flies in the face of the democratic process."

Abortion opponents dismiss such complaints, noting years of frustration over vetoes by Govs. Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson, both abortion-rights Democrats, and what they considered lax enforcement of existing abortion restrictions.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, answered abortion-rights supporters' criticism of the process with, "Whatever."

"It's just a byproduct of who has more power at the time," she said. "Cry me a river."

Supporters of the insurance proposal contend employers and individuals shouldn't automatically pay for coverage of "elective" abortions if they're morally opposed to such procedures. Five states, including Missouri, have such restrictions — and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, which operates in 30 Missouri counties and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas, carries its Missouri practices into Kansas.

Critics contend the goal is to limit access to abortions by cutting off a way to pay for them and that the state shouldn't interfere in the health insurance market.

But the arguments on both sides appear to be lost in the negotiations over insurance legislation. Instead, the discussion centers how loosely the Legislature's rules can be interpreted and what proposals can be swapped.

House Insurance Committee Chairman Clark Shultz, a Lindsborg Republican, wants to fold the restrictions on abortion coverage into other legislation. He noted that health insurance issues have been discussed in both chambers.

"That's how I found some comfort in stretching the rules a bit," said Shultz, also chairman of the House rules committee.

Teichman, chairwoman of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, was skeptical.

But she also wants the House's negotiators to sign off on several measures.

One raises the cap on lifetime health care expenditures for children covered by the state's high-risk insurance pool from $1 million to $3 million. Another rewrites rules governing when consumers receive an outside review of claims that have been denied. A third rewrites regulations for group life insurance policies.

None of the measures has gotten much notice outside the industry or legislators who deal with regulatory arcana. But Shultz declined Wednesday to agree to the version of the bill on the high-risk insurance pool that Teichman sought.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 10 months ago

"It's just a byproduct of who has more power at the time," she said. "Cry me a river."

And so women get nanny-state interference from the Christian Taliban.

appleaday 3 years, 10 months ago

"Supporters of the insurance proposal contend employers and individuals shouldn't automatically pay for coverage of "elective" abortions if they're morally opposed to such procedures." Well, I'm 'morally opposed' to my premiums going up because of the portion of the population that continue to smoke, overeat, and avoid exercise and then use up huge amounts of health care dollars for expensive heart surgeries, dialysis treatments, etc, all for preventable diseases. Make them buy separate policies. Most women don't plan to have abortions and the legislators know that insurance companies won't sell "abortion insurance" policies to a woman who is in a crisis situation and needs an abortion.

William Weissbeck 3 years, 10 months ago

If the legislature truly represented the citizens of Kansas, since they already see it within their power to tell insurance companies what they can and cannot provide coverage for, how about regulating the d*#@ costs!

madameX 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm sorry, this is contributing to fixing out budget problems how? Oh, that's right, it's not. At all. So quit wasting time, legislature.

Also, what appleaday said. Having your premiums pay for things you may or may not personally agree with goes with the territory of health insurance. Or any other kind of insurance, for that matter.

tolawdjk 3 years, 10 months ago

So the republican govt wants to regulate and stipulate a business transaction between a taxpayer and a corporation?

I think I've seen it all now.

How many jobs will this create and will it balance the state budget?

pizzapete 3 years, 10 months ago

I heard somewhere (NPR perhaps) that women might have to get a seperate policy to cover abortions? Why the heck would someone actually buy abortion only insurance?

America, the land of the free, as long as you have enough money to pay for it.

ferrislives 3 years, 10 months ago

"Abortion opponents want to prohibit insurance companies from automatically including coverage for abortions in their health plans, other than procedures necessary to save a pregnant woman's life."

Wow, how is that even legal? Those are private companies, and the government shouldn't be instructing them on what is and is not covered. That is most-certainly a slippery slope.

Also, what has happened to true conservatives in Kansas and elsewhere? Have they died off? True conservatives would never agree to interfere in the dealings of business. Remember "less government"? How about focusing on creating jobs in Kansas, and helping our economy recover? They have really lost there way!

overthemoon 3 years, 10 months ago

The best way to reduce the demand for abortions is through education, economic opportunities, and simple measures like contraception. And so while trying to make a legal, safe and affordable abortion impossible, the GOP across the country is also cutting education, reducing middle and lower class opportunities, and attacking contraception providers like planned parenthood. It would be laughable if it weren't so tragically stupid.

Every single bill putting further restrictions on a woman's right to personal control over her life should include amendments that also eliminate taxpayer funding for viagra and make men wait 72 hours before getting their script and go through counseling sessions on parenthood and STD's. And require a signed affidavit that they will provide a full 18 years of support for any 'accidents' before purchase of condom. And register with the government at puberty and provide dna samples to match them to any children they may sire while 'just being boys havin' a little fun.'

Kyle Chandler 3 years, 10 months ago

Oh yeah, because Brownback is a 'liberal' right?

ferrislives 3 years, 10 months ago

Tell me DeaconBlue, when did you start paying for my health care? When you do start paying for my heath care, then you can have some say over what's covered by MY health insurance plan. Otherwise, keep you nose in your own business.

Your argument makes absolutely no sense; just another spewing of the usual and oh so boring "liberals are bad" drivel. Liberals have nothing to do with this; the argument for keeping government out of private insurance companies is actually a conservative issue if you thought a little harder about it!

ferrislives 3 years, 10 months ago

wow Deacon, what a thoughtful response. Still makes no sense. It's fun to see so-called conservatives like you displaying your hypocrisy for everyone to see. You my friend have no clothes.

LoveThsLife 3 years, 10 months ago

This worries me, mainly because when it is something life threatening like an ectopic pregnancy there isn't a ton of time to take care of it. Not only is it about saving the woman's life in those cases but also minimizing scar tissue to reduce the chance of infertility, future ectopic pregnancies etc. I think we all know how insurance works and what a nightmare it would be for those people to have to fight an insurance company over something like this. Would insurance also be asked to pay for counseling services that a woman would need if she had been raped and forced to carry the baby that was created as a result?

I'm not a huge fan of elective abortion, and am often quite critical of some of the arguments I hear/see used by those who are very pro-choice, but it comes to a point where people need to be accountable for their own actions.

Kyle Chandler 3 years, 10 months ago

Hilarious Comment!, Especially when it comes from someone with a screen name of 'LoveThisLife'. You should change it to 'If They Die, They Die..Lalala'

up the ante a bit

LoveThsLife 3 years, 10 months ago

Kyle what exactly was so funny about my comment?

The part where I showed concerned about the potential far reaching effects of this bill?

Do you know what a tubal pregnancy is Kyle? Are you aware of it's risks? Probably not or you wouldn't find it so "hilarious"

Are you aware of how insurance companies label abortive procedures? How many procedures that most of us would consider non-abortive, are in fact, under the umbrella of "abortive procedures" in medical terms. Probably not or you wouldn't find my comment quite as funny.

I guess I don't find it funny that I believe that there are exceptional circumstances when abortion is/ might be an appropriate response to a problem.

And I guess I don't find it so funny that people are ultimately accountable for their own actions.

I do not feel comfortable with legislation that is blind and makes it harder for those who may actually need a necessary medical intervention.

Kyle Chandler 3 years, 10 months ago

Id just like to know how this works in your head. And how its anyones business what an insurance company covers privately. Sure ,you should be accountable for your actions, but when you didn't get a sex ed class due to christian neocon cuts to schools and you don't have a clinic to go to as a backup to that. Id say, you'd be working with a severe DISADVANTAGE. Am i wrong?

Later, when you're unwanted child grows up even more uneducated, confused, and pissed off and commits an few crimes then goes to Prison. Who pays for that? not insurance companies.

So please tell me more about 'accountability'.

LoveThsLife 3 years, 10 months ago

Kyle you are just looking for someone to argue with and attack.

I was commenting on one aspect of this issue and saying that I disagreed with the bill, because I felt that it would hurt women.

Your post is so incredibly off base. Did you seriously take one sentence off of my original post so you could argue it?

Anyways, here is additional insight into my last sentence.

I think ultimately, we are accountable in our lives for own actions. I think trying to legislate a moral issue like this one ends up causing more problems than it solves. Those of faith need to quit focusing on being the judge of these issues and start focusing on caring for the poor, the needy and the unempowered. For those of faith I think it's important that they be reminded that ultimately they believe that all will be judged for their own personal choices and motives by the deity they believe in. I don't think trying to play judge and jury is appropriate and I find it to be quite problematic, especially in instances where they try to pass legislation such as limiting "abortive procedures" to life threatening instances. Like I said previously, the term "abortive procedure" is broad as defined by health insurance agencies. Legislating a bill like this could end up being very problematic for many women and couples.

So in essence what I was saying was..let people make the choices they will. We have no idea the circumstances or motivations and discerning those things is someone else's problem.

Beth Bird 3 years, 10 months ago

How does this apply to the budget? What about the economy? What a WASTE of the last 3 days.....This is such crap!!

The above statement doesn't even touch on the violation of private rights of citizens. I pay for my insurance. It should cover the procedures that I need. That is between my doctor and myself - not my legislator. End of story.

Kyle Chandler 3 years, 10 months ago

AGREED! Mind your own business BIG brownback Govt Nazis!

verity 3 years, 10 months ago

"'That's how I found some comfort in stretching the rules a bit,' said Shultz . . ."

Huh?

And I'm sure Mary Kay Culp had and will have the same opinion when her side is not in power.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

Big government meddling in the insurance business.

Republicans are obviously pro big government.

love2fish_ks 3 years, 10 months ago

This is grandstanding by some politcal republican hacks. The Health Ins Reform Law that was passed last year requires each state to set up insurance exchanges by 2012. The exchanges are required to cover womens health, and yes, including abortion.

oldbaldguy 3 years, 10 months ago

I voted for Holland and I am a Republican. Some much for government staying out of your business.

beatrice 3 years, 10 months ago

Republicans should be careful. Babies might grow up to become artists.

MyName 3 years, 10 months ago

Pass the darn budget and stop wasting our time. If you have to pull stunts like this to get a bill even passed when your party holds both chambers, maybe it's because it's not something people actually want and, unlike the budget, it can wait until next year.

Also, if you're going to fiddle with the rules in this manner, you may as well amend the constitution and turn it into a Unicameral system like Nebraska has, it's the same thing at this point.

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