Bill Seeking to Expand Health Insurance Coverage for Abortion Services Advances

Jan 18, 2021

A bill that expands insurance coverage of abortion services is moving forward in Richmond.

For people in Virginia who get their health insurance from the exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, abortion is not an option -- at least not an option that insurance will pay for.  


Senator Jennifer McClellan is a Democrat from Richmond who says it's time to change that, and she has a bill that would eliminate the prohibition. 


"Abortion is the only legal medical procedure that is prohibited by Virginia law from even being offered by private companies who sell plans under an exchange," she explains. "And this bill would just remove that prohibition. It doesn't require anyone to offer one. But it does remove that prohibition." 


Federal funds cannot be used for abortion services except in very limited cases. But Senator Steve Newman is a Republican from Bedford County and he says he's uncomfortable making abortion an essential service that could be covered on Virginia’s health care exchange.  


“The state of Virginia and certainly the federal government, they do donate to certain individuals who are on the exchanges," Newman says. "That doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily going to pay for this service. But it certainly does go into the pot.”  


If McClellan’s bill is passes, people who want an abortion would have to pay a separate premium for coverage to pay for the procedure. The bill passed a Senate committee Monday on a party-line vote. It’s now on its way to the Senate floor.


This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.