Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign a bill prohibiting coverage for abortion in insurance plans sold on new state health exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
The state Senate Wednesday approved the measure in a 31-19 vote.
The legislation, which passed the state House in April, would require private insurers to exclude access to abortion coverage from any package they put on the new exchanges.
The measure is primarily a political gesture by the governor, according to Drexel University health policy professor Robert Field.
“The Affordable Care Act already limits the nature of abortion coverage under the policies that are sold on the exchanges,” he explained.
In addition to preserving current abortion restrictions, the ACA bars federal funding for abortion services on the new exchanges, which launch in 2014.
Fields noted that lower-earning women are most likely to have decreased access to abortion under the legislation, since they would not be able to purchase insurance on state exchanges to offset the cost of abortion services.
“I don’t think we know for sure what the relationship is between insurance coverage and the likelihood that women will actually have an abortion,” Fields in a phone interview. “But it’s certainly going to have a dampening effect.”
If Corbett signs the measure when it lands on his desk next week, Pennsylvania will join dozens of other states that have already enacted similar restrictions since the ACA was passed in 2010.
Neither New Jersey nor Delaware has placed any limits on abortion coverage to be offered in upcoming state health exchanges.