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Virginia newest state to ban insurance coverage of abortion in state health exchanges

The Virginia Legislature passed a health care bill Wednesday that bans private insurance providers from covering abortions if they participate in a state health care exchange mandated under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the Associated Press.

The bill passed the Senate with a tie-breaking vote from Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, despite Democrats’ efforts to repeal Gov. Robert McDonnell’s added amendment that specified the abortion coverage ban.

For the second time this year, two Senate Democrats, Charles J. Colgan and Phillip Puckett, joined the 18 Virginia Republicans to vote in favor of McDonnell’s amendment included in the legislation, which was designed to create and operate a state-run health benefits exchange in Virginia. The amendment stipulates that no qualified health insurance plan can offer abortion coverage “regardless of whether such coverage is provided through the plan or is offered as a separate optional rider thereto.” The amendment includes an exception for cases of rape, incest, or to protect the mother’s life.

Virginia joins at least seven states that have now passed similar bans on abortion coverage in state health care exchanges, according to the New York Times. Federal law already bans federal funding of abortion; however, the Obama’s health care law allows state exchanges to cover abortions as long as the premiums collected from policy holders is made separate from federal subsidies.

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