U.S. WHITE-HOUSE — On Wednesday, in an event celebrating the Trump administration’s pro-life work, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar announced that the U.S. Health and Human Services [HHS] will be withholding $200 million from California’s healthcare aid for their violation of federal.
In January of this year, after investigation, HHS issued the state of California a Notice of Violation for imposing “universal abortion coverage mandates on health insurance plans.” The state insisted all private insurance plans and employers pay for abortions.
This violates Federal law under the Weldon Amendment. The Weldon Amendment clarifies that “conscience protections apply to health care providers who refuse to perform, accommodate, or assist with certain health care services on religious or moral grounds.”
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a sub- agency of HHS, offered California assistance to comply with the law. Yet, California continued “illegally mandating that all health care plans subject to regulation by the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) cover abortion without exclusion or limitation.” As a result, a $200 million disallowance will be enforced in January 2021, and will continue to be withheld every quarter until they comply.
Although this is a huge gain for the universal protection of life, President- elect Biden could reverse the decision in the coming months. This is likely, especially in light of Biden nomination for the head of HHS — Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California and a known abortion rights advocate.
In another win for life, Secretary Azar announced that the US Department of Justice will sue the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC), a hospital in Vermont. After investigation, the OCR found that the hospital “unlawfully forced a nurse to assist in an elective abortion procedure” even though she had previously notified the hospital of her conscience objections, which are protected by Federal law. The outcome of this is also contingent because of the upcoming change in administration.
Ending the event on a hopeful note, Vice President Mike Pence thanked everyone for their efforts in protecting life and promised, “on behalf of the President, the First family and my family,” to continue to fight for life “until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law.”