Members of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 26 introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act, a federal bill to ensure that people who receive health care or insurance through the federal government have coverage for abortion care. The bill was introduced by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
The EACH Act aims to reduce economic barriers to abortion access by ending the Hyde Amendment and related bans on abortion coverage that push abortion care out of reach for many people enrolled in federal health insurance programs, such as Medicaid and TRICARE, or who receive health care through a government provider, such as the Indian Health Service.
Federal employees and their dependents, military service members, Native Americans and Indigenous people, Peace Corps volunteers, immigrants, people in federal prisons, and residents of Washington, D.C. are all denied access to abortion care due to these bans.
“The Hyde amendment targets people living on low incomes and intentionally makes abortion unaffordable and inaccessible. It’s unconscionable and must end,” said Freya Riedlin, Federal Policy Counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “By dismantling economic barriers to accessing abortion care, passage of the EACH Act would be a critical step toward equity in health care access—and making sure every person can make health care decisions about pregnancy that are best for themselves and their families.”
The EACH Act would also prevent the federal government from prohibiting or restricting coverage of abortion care by private health insurance companies, including those participating in the insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act.
“Even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion care was out of reach for many. For decades, anti-abortion members of Congress have unjustly excluded abortion care from federal health care programs,” said Center President and CEO Nancy Northup in a statement. “The EACH Act would end this unjust exclusion. It’s long past time for U.S. government policy to align with that of other nations that treat abortion care as health care and a fundamental human right. We commend Representatives Lee, DeGette, Schakowsky, and Pressley for supporting and continuing to push for this crucial bill.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights is part of a broad coalition, led by All* Above All, of more than 100 state, national, and regional organizations supporting the EACH Act. Through its U.S. congressional advocacy work, the Center advocates for federal laws that advance reproductive health, rights, and access, including the EACH Act.
Hyde Amendment Has Made Abortion Care Inaccessible for People Struggling Financially
Congress first passed the Hyde Amendment in 1976 as a rider on the annual Department of Health and Human Services funding bill with the aim of prohibiting abortion coverage under Medicaid. Lawmakers have renewed it every year since, and expanded its reach to ban abortion coverage for nearly all people who receive health insurance through the federal government, making abortion care inaccessible for people struggling financially.
In addition to the Hyde Amendment, many people are also subject to state-based restrictions that prohibit coverage of abortion care.
Medicaid plays an essential role in providing health care coverage for people who experience elevated rates of poverty, under- and unemployment, and gaps in private insurance coverage. Bans on abortion coverage compound the barriers to care many people already face due to systemic discrimination and economic insecurity, disproportionately impacting Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), people working to make ends meet, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and young people. These people are more likely to qualify for Medicaid and other government insurance programs and are therefore also more likely to experience the financial hardships caused by the Hyde Amendment.