The Trump administration on Friday issued a straightforward warning to California: Stop requiring in-state health insurers to cover abortion or risk losing federal funding.
As President Donald Trump became the first president to speak at the March For Life in Washington D.C., the Health and Human Services Department Office for Civil Rights issued a statement condemning California officials for the requirement.
“OCR is issuing a Notice of Violation to the state of California, formally notifying California that it cannot impose universal abortion coverage mandates on health insurance plans and issuers in violation of federal conscience laws,” the notice said.
“California has deprived over 28,000 people of plans that did not cover elective abortion, but now must cover abortion due to California’s mandate,” the department continued.
HHS also noted that the OCR investigation stems from complaints alleging California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) illegally discriminated when, in August 2014, it ordered that all health insurers under its jurisdiction must cover elective abortions in every plan.
The complaints originated from the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, and Skyline Wesleyan Church.
“Pursuant to 45 CFR Part 88 (effective March 2011), OCR has completed the investigation of the complaints and determined that California violated the Weldon Amendment by mandating that California health care plan issuers cover elective abortion in each plan product, and continues to violate federal law by continuing to require objecting health care entities protected by the Weldon Amendment to cover elective abortion,” the HHS notice continued.
“With this Notice, OCR requests that California inform OCR, within thirty days, whether California will continue to enforce its requirement that all health plans cover elective abortions, or whether it will agree to take corrective action and remedy the effect of its discriminatory conduct,” it added.
“If, after 30 days, OCR does not receive sufficient assurance that California will come into compliance with federal law, OCR will forward the Notice of Violation and the evidence supporting OCR’s findings in this matter to the HHS funding components from which California receives funding for appropriate action under applicable grants and contracts regulations,” the civil rights office said. “This action may ultimately result in limitations on continued receipt of certain HHS funds.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Weldon Amendment has been added to federal spending bills since 2004.
It directs that federal funds cannot be provided to any state or local governments that subject “any institutional or individual healthcare entity to discrimination on the basis that the healthcare entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”
“Once again, President Trump’s administration is delivering on his promise to protect human life and all Americans’ freedom of conscience,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.
“Under President Trump, HHS has been vigorously enforcing the statutes Congress passed to protect Americans’ consciences and institutionalizing these protections within the department’s civil rights work,” he added.