The state of California told the Trump administration Friday that it would continue to require health plans in the state to cover abortion services and accused the administration of illegally threatening to withhold federal aid to California to try to force a change.
“California will take no ‘corrective action,’” Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra wrote in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services in which he defended the state’s abortion coverage mandate and accused the Trump administration of illegally threatening federal assistance to the state.
Becerra pointed out that less than four years ago, the federal health agency concluded that California’s policy complied with federal rules.
“The facts … have not changed since the last time [the agency] adjudicated those facts,” Becerra wrote in a response that his office said also came from Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Despite that earlier ruling, the Trump administration in January informed California that it had concluded that the state’s abortion policy ran afoul of federal law.
The administration threatened to block federal money for other unspecified services unless the state changed its rules.
At issue is a provision, known as the Weldon amendment, that has been added to federal spending bills since 2004. It says that federal funds may not be provided to any state or local governments that subject “any institutional or individual healthcare entity to discrimination on the basis that the healthcare entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.”
In its warning to California, the Office for Civil Rights at the Health and Human Services Department alleged that the state’s requirement that health plans cover abortion services effectively discriminates against health insurance plans that don’t cover abortions.
This, federal officials said, violated the Weldon amendment.
California is among six states — including New York, Illinois and Washington — that require health plans being sold in the state to cover abortion services….
The above comes from a Feb. 21 story in the Los Angeles Times.
See the Jan. 25 Cal Catholic story on the Trump HHS department issuing the order to California.