Pro-life leaders in the House and Senate urged the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to end elective abortion coverage in the federal employee health insurance plans of members of Congress and their staff.
House pro-life caucus co-chair Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and his counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), led a coalition of 77 House members and 17 senators Friday in a letter to OPM.
The letter urged OPM Acting Director Margaret Weichert to stop government contributions for members of Congress and their staff for health insurance plans that cover elective abortions.
The pro-life leaders explained that, since 1984, an amendment introduced by Smith in the Financial Services Appropriations bill blocked elective abortion coverage in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).
“However, since the implementation of Obamacare, 87% of plans on the Exchange that are available to Congressional staff and members cover elective abortion,” the letter read. “OPM is subsidizing these plans in clear violation of the Smith Amendment, and the Member letter asks OPM to bring subsidies into compliance by plan year 2020.”
Under a current Obama-era rule enacted in 2014, OPM administers government contributions for members of Congress and their staff enrolled in Gold-level health insurance plans offered through the District of Columbia’s Small Business Health Options Program, including those that cover elective abortions.
Of the 67 plans available, only nine excluded coverage for elective abortions.
“Taxpayers, who pay 72 to 75 percent of these health benefit premiums, do not want their hard-earned tax dollars to pay for abortions,” the letter continued. “The Smith Amendment does not allow Members of Congress and Congressional staff to operate under a different set of rules than other federal employees when it comes to taxpayer funding of abortion.”
The lawmakers wrote they “request swift action by OPM to ensure that any health insurance subsidies for members of Congress or Congressional staff are in full compliance with the clear terms of the Smith Amendment, at least by the beginning of plan year 2020.”