Senators Lankford, Hyde-Smith Lead Effort to Stop Biden from Forcing Taxpayers to Pay for Abortions

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) introduced a resolution of disapproval to stop a Biden Administration regulation allowing combined payments for abortion coverage in taxpayer-funded Affordable Care Act (ACA) health exchange plans, which violates an unambiguous separate payment requirement in that law.

The resolution challenges the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) final rule that repeals the separate billing requirements for abortion services as specifically mandated by Congress in Section 1303 of the ACA. The final rule eliminated a 2019 Trump-era rule on the separate billing requirement, which was enacted to align with the clear text of the ACA and ensure taxpayers who oppose abortion do not subsidize health exchange plans that provide abortion coverage.

“Health care protects life; abortion takes life,” said Lankford. “That’s why Congress ensured in the Affordable Care Act that health care and abortion would be billed and paid for separately. Children of all ages, born or unborn, are blessings that deserve our protection. We are standing up to this flagrant violation of the clear legal mandate to have separate payments for abortion and health care. By putting this rule in place, Biden is once again proving his obsession with abortion. I will continue to do everything I can to stand up to the most pro-abortion president we’ve ever seen and his administration that wants to promote and even increase abortion in our nation.”

“The HHS final rule needs to be stopped. It unlawfully creates a situation in which people, who would never support abortions, might have their hard-earned money used to subsidize plans that provide abortions,” Hyde-Smith said. “Congress was explicit in requiring separate billing and everyone should be troubled to see the Biden administration completely flout the law with this rule.”

The CRA resolution is cosponsored by 20 other Senators. Its introduction follows the July 2021 letter from Lankford and his colleagues to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra seeking the withdrawal of the then-proposed rule to eliminate the Trump separate billing rule.

“The Proposed Rule directly violates the express text, clear meaning, and Congressional intent of Section 1303. In construing ‘separate’ to mean ‘together,’ the Proposed Rule would illegally allow insurance companies to collect combined payments for elective abortion coverage, rather than separate payments as the law requires. The Proposed Rule also undermines consumer transparency and makes it harder for consumers to know whether their plan covers abortion, which may lead many to pay for abortions in violation of their consciences or religious beliefs,” the Senators wrote last summer.

The CRA allows for expedited procedures to consider this joint resolution, which would need a simple majority for passage.

Lankford and Hyde-Smith were joined in introducing the resolution by Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Braun (R-IN), John Thune (R-SD), Steve Daines (R-MT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rick Scott (R-FL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Hoeven (R-ND), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Boozman (R-AR), and Josh Hawley (R-MO).

Representative Michael Cloud (R-TX) is sponsoring a House companion resolution.

The Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heritage Action, CatholicVote, and the HHS Accountability Project scholars at the Ethics and Public Policy Center are among the groups supporting the resolution.