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Obamacare demands insurers cover Planned Parenthood clinics

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Obamacare,Health Care,Abortion

Most of Planned Parenthood's 750 health and abortion clinics around the nation will be covered under Obamacare, imposing a new demand on insurers who want to participate in the health care exchanges that will provide insurance coverage to millions of Americans.

While insurers currently cover doctors and health facilities in their networks, Obamacare demands that they also cover at least 20 percent of "essential community providers" in their coverage area, including Planned Parenthood, AIDS clinics, pain management centers and even alternative medicine providers.

"We've never covered these sorts of things," a Wisconsin insurance provider told Secrets. Insurers said that they were just figuring out the new requirement and haven't decided if it will raise prices. Conservative providers, however, are wary of covering Planned Parenthood.

To make it easy for insurance providers to find local essential community providers, the Department of Health and Human Services has just released a long list of approved community health providers, mostly targeted to low-income Americans.

Secrets counted some 480 Planned Parenthood facilities on the HHS list, and nearly 100 AIDS clinics. Others include family planning clinics, teen services, teen pregnancy centers, lesbian and gay centers, high school clinics and even jails.

Obamacare is not expected to cover abortions, a chunk of Planned Parenthood's business. It also provides birth control and cancer screenings. But critics, especially conservatives, believe that by funding Planned Parenthood now, the door is open to expanding coverage to abortion.

Planned Parenthood is already a major player in Obamacare. It is expected to be part of the "navigator system" of hundreds of thousands of insurance advisers helping to sign Americans up to the system.