AUGUSTA – A controversial bill to provide taxpayer funded abortions in the state of Maine and force private insurance companies to also cover abortions is scheduled to have a vote in the Maine House Tuesday.
The bill, L.D. 820 is sponsored by Rep. Joyce “Jay”
McCreight (D – Harpswell), whose legislative profile says she is a “long time
advocate for children.”
The bill appears to try to frame a lack of taxpayer funded
abortions in Maine as a discrimination issue, saying it is trying to ‘prevent
discrimination in public and private insurance.’
But while the title of the bill suggests that the purpose is
to provide women who are covered under Medicaid the same access to abortion as
those with private insurance, the bill itself adds the language requiring all
insurance carriers selling plans in Maine to cover abortions in order to say
that taxpayers must pay for the abortions of women without insurance.
Because the Mills administration is rapidly expanding
Medicaid with an aggressive enrollment program, it is expected that as many as
70,000 more Mainers will be enrolled in Maine’s Medicaid program over the
coming twelve to eighteen months. McCreight’s bill would make all recipients of
Medicaid, both previously enrolled, and the new expansion population, eligible
for abortion services at taxpayer expense.
The federal government, under the Hyde Amendment, will not
provide funding for abortion, so state taxpayers alone would be on the hook to
pay for the cost of abortions for Medicaid recipients.
According to legislative documents, the bill comes out of
the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee with a divided
report but a recommendation that the bill “Ought to Pass.” The committee split
on the bill, with Democrats supporting taxpayer funding of abortions while
L.D. 820 has about 80 cosponsors in addition to Rep. McCreight as the primary sponsor. All sponsors are Democrats or “Independents.”
A representative from Governor Janet Mills office testified in favor of the bill, and Speaker of the House Sara Gideon is a cosponsor of the bill.
An estimate by the Legislature puts the cost to Maine taxpayers at just under $1.4 million.