Insurance coverage limits for abortions advanced

Senators gave second-round approval May 3 to a bill that would limit health insurance coverage for abortions in Nebraska.

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows each state to opt out of offering abortion coverage through qualified health plans offered in the act under a health insurance exchange.

LB22, introduced by Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy, would opt out of allowing health insurance plans operating under an exchange to cover abortions unless necessary to prevent the death of a woman.

Additionally, the bill would prohibit private health insurance policies in the state from providing coverage for an abortion, except through an optional rider paid for solely by the insured. A health insurance plan issuer would be prohibited from providing any incentive or discount to an individual who chooses abortion coverage via a rider.

McCoy said the bill is an extension of existing policy prohibiting abortion coverage for Nebraska state workers.

“For 30 years, we’ve done with state employees what we’re doing with LB22,” he said.

Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad offered an amendment on select file that would allow a health insurance plan to offer or provide coverage specifically for an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.

Conrad said ectopic pregnancies, in which a fertilized egg attaches outside the uterus, occur in one of every 50 pregnancies. Ectopic pregnancies can jeopardize a woman’s ability to successfully carry future pregnancies to term, she said.

“There are significant and serious medical issues related to pregnancy that we must recognize,” Conrad said.

McCoy opposed the amendment, saying ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage already are covered under provisions of LB22 that exempt procedures related to “spontaneous abortions” or to prevent the death of a woman.

The amendment failed on a 14-26 vote.

Conrad offered a second amendment, which she said mirrored the health exception lawmakers passed last session in LB1103, a bill prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks. She said the amendment would result in a “clear and uniform set of health exceptions” in laws related to reproductive health.

McCoy opposed the second Conrad amendment, saying it contained different language with different legal definitions than those outlined in LB1103.

The amendment failed on a vote of 10-20.

Malcolm Sen. Ken Haar brought an amendment, which he later withdrew, that would have provided an exception for an abortion performed when a physician finds a complication or fetal anomaly resulting in a condition incompatible with life.

“It is unfortunate that some pregnancies end in this tragic way,” Haar said, adding that decisions made in such situations should be left to families and their doctors.

Senators voted 30-8 to advance LB22 to final reading.

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