LaFontaine (Courtesy: Michigan Legislature)
During my first few years in office I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of issues, from welfare reform and veterans education to Great Lakes quality and reducing lawmaker salaries. However as a state lawmaker, few things are more important than being a careful steward of taxpayer dollars.
My colleagues and I have worked diligently to create a state government that is efficient and accountable to residents. In the last three state budgets, which were completed well before a shutdown, more than $21 billion in debt was paid down and almost $580 million has been deposited into the state’s rainy day fund.
Despite the valiant attempts by Republican lawmakers to stop its implementation, including challenges at the United States Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land. In preparation for the Affordable Care Act invading our personal lives and our wallets, last year the state Legislature approved a bill that would disallow health insurance companies that participate in the taxpayer funded exchange from offering elective abortion coverage as part of their subsidized plans.
Unfortunately, Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the bill that contained this language. To remedy this, a citizen-led initiative began and more than 315,000 Michiganians from all 83 of our counties signed a petition in support of the abortion insurance opt-out, giving the Legislature another opportunity to ensure taxpayers are not on the hook for elective abortions.
More than half of the other states in the U.S. have already either restricted abortion coverage in the plans that will be offered through the exchange or removed standard abortion coverage from private insurance plans. Hard-working taxpayers are sending a strong message to their legislators that while they may be unable to resist paying for Affordable Care Act in its entirety, they absolutely will not fund the portion that subsidizes health plans that provide elective abortion coverage.
Elective abortion as defined in the language of this proposal does not include “the treatment upon a pregnant woman who is experiencing a miscarriage or has been diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.” So in situations where the life or health of the mother is at risk, her insurance coverage will still pay for her physicians to perform an abortion if medically necessary. If the Legislature approves the language of the ballot proposal, insurance plans will still be allowed to offer riders with abortion coverage, so long as 100 percent of the premium is paid by the beneficiary.
Here are just a few treatments not covered by most Michigan health insurance plans: acupuncture, chiropractic care, light boxes to treat seasonal depression and midwives. If insurance companies are not willing to pay for these goods and services, why should they pay for abortions? Furthermore, if taxpayers aren’t required to fund these through plans on the exchange, why on earth would they be required to fund abortions?
This is not about whether women should be allowed to have an abortion. The question is about who should pay for it. And the answer is: not the hard-working men and women of Michigan who go to work every day to provide for their families.
State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Columbus Township, is deputy majority whip and chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. She represents District 32.