Bill to require Medicaid coverage for abortion services passes Delaware House

By Joseph Edelen
Posted 5/23/24

This story will be updated.

DOVER — After about 30 minutes of debate Thursday, a bill to require private health insurance plans, the state and Medicaid to cover abortion related services …

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Bill to require Medicaid coverage for abortion services passes Delaware House


DOVER — After about 30 minutes of debate Thursday, a bill to require private health insurance plans, the state and Medicaid to cover abortion-related services was passed in the House of Representatives.

Led by House Majority Leader Melissa Minor-Brown, D-New Castle, House Substitute 2 for House Bill 110 would require Medicaid and other plans to cover up to $750 for abortion-related care while eliminating cost-sharing requirements such as co-payments or deductibles.

“Access to comprehensive health care services, including abortion, is fundamental to ensuring individual autonomy, reproductive rights and gender equality,” Rep. Minor-Brown said on the House floor Thursday.

“However, despite significant strides in women’s rights, barriers to accessing abortion persist, and often it’s exacerbated by financial constraints. Denying coverage for abortion creates disparities in health care access, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities, low-income individuals and people in regions with limited health care resources.”

The legislation carries a note of more than $500,000 over the next three fiscal years. For fiscal year 2025, the bill’s cost includes a one-time $250,000 appropriation, about $13,000 for the state’s group health insurance plan and more than $240,000 for Medicaid.

House Bill 110 received pushback from Republican members such as House Minority Whip Lyndon Yearick, R-Magnolia, who questioned why the state was extending this coverage instead of other elective services which are not covered.

“We do not currently cover (other elective procedures) 100%, so I do not understand why we’re asking commercial payers, Medicaid and the state of Delaware to pay 100% when it is currently an open option for folks to get an abortion in the state,” said Rep. Valerie Jones Giltner, R-Georgetown.

The legislation provides a carve out for “religious employers” – such as a church or a school operated by a religious organization – which can seek an exclusion from providing the coverage if abortion conflicts with their beliefs and practices.

During debate, Rep. Charles Postles, R-Milford, explained how his personal beliefs factored into his vote. While noting that the bill does not pertain to being supportive of abortion, he did not believe House Bill 110 was the right path for the state.

“There are many taxpayers who I think are as passionately opposed to abortions as I am. There are many that support it, certainly… but I think that it is unfair to force taxpayers who are opposed to this procedure to have to pay for that procedure,” he said.

The cost of abortion via medication can range from $400 to $550, Rep Minor-Brown said, while surgical abortion is around $800. The majority leader noted that, with the $750 cap, patients would pay the remaining balance out of pocket.

Rep. Minor-Brown went on to cite a study that showed women who were denied an abortion and went on to give birth experienced an increase in household poverty lasting a minimum of four years. She said abortion denial made it harder for women to cover basic living expenses, lowered their credit scores, increased their debt and had a negative impact on their public financial records.

“When you think about whether you want to support something that may cost on the front end, when you deny a person access to essential health care, look at the impact after that,” she said.

“The woman who’s utilizing Medicaid, now you’re not allowing her that right to choose because you don’t want to pay for it. But you’d rather pay for her to stay on Medicaid, continue utilizing state resources … which to me costs more… make it make sense.”

House Republicans debated these points — as well as how the legislation contributes to the state’s rising health care costs — with Rep. Minor-Brown up until a roll call vote, which resulted in 26 lawmakers voting yes and 11 no.

The lone Republican members to support the bill were House Minority Leader Mike Ramone, R-Newark; Rep. Michael Smith, R-Pike Creek; and Rep. Kevin Hensley, R-Townsend.

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