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Thursday, October 20, 2011

 1:49 PM 

Ban on abortion coverage in state health care exchange passes Senate

The Senate passed a bill banning plans offered under the federally mandated health care exchange from covering most abortions.

The bill, approved along party lines 17-16, exempts coverage of abortions in the case of rape, incest or life-threatening conditions.

The debate focused on whether the bill is simply extending the state's ban on public funding for those sorts of abortions to plans in the exchange or would prohibit private insurance plans from offering them.

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, moved to refer the bill back to the Committee on Senate Organization because she said the bill would prohibit some private insurance plans from covering abortion. Other Democrats claimed the bill is limiting what type of insurance residents were allowed to buy with "their own dollars" That motion failed along party lines.

Vinehout also said the bill she's drafted establishing the health care exchanges would use no state dollars and therefore made this legislation an overreach by Republicans.

"We do not now, nor can we use tax dollars for abortions and I support that law," Vinehout said. "This bill goes much farther."

Sen. Rich Zipperer, R-Pewaukee, said the bill is simply extending the current ban on subsidies to plans covering abortion and that Vinehout's interpretation was incorrect.

"Federal law is clear that they [the states] do have have the option to opt out," Zipperer said. "All this opt out does is to ensure that this current prohibition is extended to those exchanges."


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