September 24, 2012 — The Alaska Health Department is still reviewing a proposal to further restrict funding for abortion care in health insurance programs for low-income state residents, the AP/Anchorage Daily News reports (AP/Anchorage Daily News, 9/20).
Under the proposed rule, the state would only cover abortion care through Medicaid or Denali KidCare -- joint state-federal health insurance programs -- if a provider certifies that the procedure is medically necessary. Current state law defines medically necessary abortions as those that address "a condition harmful to the woman's physical or psychological health." However, the proposal states that coverage would only apply if "the health of the mother is endangered by the pregnancy."
Sen. Hollis French (D) in a letter to Alaska's health commissioner said the proposed regulations would reinstate rules overturned by the state Supreme Court in 2001. A legal opinion requested by French found that the "medically necessary" standard would become narrower under the proposed regulation and would be "reasonably likely" to be found unconstitutional (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/31).
Alaska's health commissioner has said that the state health department did not intend to narrow the definition and that it would address whether to make wording changes after reviewing public comments (AP/Anchorage Daily News, 9/20).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership