California state insurance officials have made quite the leap in women's reproductive rights, dictating that insurance companies cannot sell group plans that exclude abortion and reversing a previous decision that allowed two Catholic universities to exclude elective abortions from their health care plans.
In a letter sent to seven insurance companies on Friday, Michelle Rouillard, director of California's Department of Managed Health Care declared, "Abortion is a basic health care service…All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally."
This news comes in light of Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount University—both Jesuit institutions—deciding they were going to drop elective abortions from their coverage, and informing staff and faculty that they could individually pay for supplemental coverage from a third party provider. According to the schools, their insurance companies had cleared the decision with state authorities. But university employees objected (naturally). As reported by AP:
In her letter to the insurers, Roullaird said her department had "erroneously approved or did not object" to a small number of health insurance policies that excluded abortions. She asked the companies to review their plans, including any the department had already approved, to make sure they are in accordance with the new guidance.
The two insurance companies told the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/1t2Pjgu) that they would comply with the directive. Loyola and Santa Clara representatives said they would explore their options with Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente.
Of course, pro-life groups Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Foundation are hopping mad and have threatened to file a civil rights complaint with the federal government unless of course the state decides to reverse their (already reversed) decision.
For now, good job California!