Hoyer: ‘Free Sterilization? I Don’t Know Anything About Free Sterilization’

By Thomas Cloud | March 20, 2012 | 7:13pm EDT

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) -- House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) indicated on Tuesday that he did not know that the “preventive services” mandate the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued under the Affordable Care Act (AKA "Obamacare") requires virtually all health care plans in the United States to offer cost-free sterilizations to all women with “reproductive capacity.”

The "preventive services" guidelines issued by the HHS, say that new health insurance plans in the United States must “provide coverage without cost-sharing" that includes: “All Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”

On Friday, the department of HHS announced a regulation making clear that this mandate extends to the student health care plans offered at American colleges and universities.

At a pen-and-pad meeting with reporters on Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol, CNSNews.com asked Hoyer: “The administration has approved a regulation under Obamacare that says, quote, ‘all women with reproductive capacity,’ end quote, must be offered free sterilization –”

Hoyer interrupted: “How is that related to a pre-existing condition?”

CNSNews.com continued: “--hold on--free sterilization in their health care plans. Do you support the mandate for free sterilization for college-age women?”

Hoyer said, “Free sterilization? I don’t know anything about free sterilization. I don’t know anything about that. I’m sorry. The answer is, I don’t. But I don’t think anybody is proposing that.”

As CNSNews.com has reported, the HHS regulation was announced on Friday, Mar. 16, and will be published in the Federal Register on Mar. 21.

"Under the final rule, students will gain the same protections other people with individual market insurance have, like a prohibition on lifetime limits and coverage of preventive services without cost sharing," HHS said in a press release put out late Friday afternoon.

In a request for comments on how the student-health-plan mandate will be implemented, HHS spelt out that its "proventive services" included the same items as the overall mandate--including sterilizations.

"As relevant here, the HRSA Guidelines require coverage, without cost sharing, for '[a]all Food and Drug Administration [(FDA)] approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity,' as prescribed by a provider," said the HHS request for comments.

In announcing the rule for college-based health plans, HHS said it would follow the same system for enforcing the rule on religious colleges and universities that object to purchasing sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients for its students that President Barack Obama has proposed for enforcing the regulation on religious non-profit organizations in the coverage for their employees: The insurer will be forced to provide the sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients to the students free of charge.

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