On Friday, the Trump administration sent a message to California: Stop requiring health insurance companies to provide abortion coverage or we’re cutting off your funding.
On the same day that President Trump became the first president to ever speak live at the March For Life in Washington D.C., the notice from the Health and Human Services Department Office for Civil Rights (OCR) stated:
OCR is issuing a Notice of Violation to the state of California, formally notifying California that it cannot impose universal abortion coverage mandates on health insurance plans and issuers in violation of federal conscience laws. California has deprived over 28,000 people of plans that did not cover elective abortion, but now must cover abortion due to California’s mandate.
The notice continued that OCR’s investigation arose from complaints alleging California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) unlawfully discriminated when it ordered, in August 2014, that all health plan issuers under its jurisdiction must offer coverage for elective abortion in every plan they offer. Those complaints came from the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, and Skyline Wesleyan Church.
The statement continued:
Pursuant to 45 CFR Part 88 (effective March 2011), OCR has completed the investigation of the complaints and determined that California violated the Weldon Amendment by mandating that California health care plan issuers cover elective abortion in each plan product, and continues to violate federal law by continuing to require objecting health care entities protected by the Weldon Amendment to cover elective abortion. With this Notice, OCR requests that California inform OCR, within thirty days, whether California will continue to enforce its requirement that all health plans cover elective abortions, or whether it will agree to take corrective action and remedy the effect of its discriminatory conduct.
If, after 30 days, OCR does not receive sufficient assurance that California will come into compliance with federal law, OCR will forward the Notice of Violation and the evidence supporting OCR’s findings in this matter to the HHS funding components from which California receives funding for appropriate action under applicable grants and contracts regulations. This action may ultimately result in limitations on continued receipt of certain HHS funds.
The Los Angeles Times reported of the Weldon Amendment:
The amendment, which has been added to federal spending bills since 2004, specifies that federal funds may not be provided to any state or local governments that subject “any institutional or individual healthcare entity to discrimination on the basis that the healthcare entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar stated, “Once again, President Trump’s administration is delivering on his promise to protect human life and all Americans’ freedom of conscience. Under President Trump, HHS has been vigorously enforcing the statutes Congress passed to protect Americans’ consciences and institutionalizing these protections within the department’s civil rights work.”
Roger Severino, Director of OCR, echoed, “No one in America should be forced to pay for or cover other people’s abortions. We are putting California on notice that it must stop forcing people of good will to subsidize the taking of human life, not only because it’s the moral thing to do, but because it’s the law.”