Letter Details Six Ways Senate Health Care Bill Results in Abortion Funding
by Steven Ertelt
January 11, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — As Congressional Democrats work on merging the House and Senate versions of the government-run health care bill, a new letter from the National Right to Life Committee details six ways in which the Senate version mandates taxpayer funding of abortions.
The details are important because the Senate version of the legislation, especially when it comes to language concerning abortion, is expected to form the basis of the merged bill.
The letter to members of Congress comes at a time when pro-life groups are hoping to urge pro-life Democrats to hold fast against any final bill that includes abortion funding.
The NRLC letter says the "House-passed bill (H.R. 3962) and the Senate-passed bill (H.R. 3590) are far more divergent on abortion policy matters than one would understand on the basis of accounts in the news media."
NRLC details the first way the Senate bill would result in tax-funded abortions, according to the letter it provided Sunday to LifeNews.com.
"The Senate-passed bill would create a new program under which the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would administer two or more multi-state insurance plans," it says. "The bill provides that at least one such plan would be subject to limitations on abortion coverage, implying that other federally administered plans could cover elective abortions, or perhaps even be required to do so by the federal administrator."
Secondly, NRLC says abortion funding would come via the affordability credits.
"The Senate bill would result in a situation in which private plans that cover elective abortion would qualify for the federal subsidy, but every enrollee in such a plan would find himself or herself subject to a requirement that he or she make a separate monthly payment into a fund used exclusively for elective abortions an ‘abortion surcharge,’" NRLC explains.
"Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius recently insisted that this separate-payment requirement would apply to every person who participates in the exchange," the letter says. "As we read the language, the requirement would apply to anyone who enrolls in a subsidized plan that covers elective abortions, which would surely include many people who would learn of the ‘abortion surcharge’ only after enrolling, but who would have no choice other than to pay the abortion surcharge or see their entire health coverage lapse."
Next, NRLC says many of the so-called limits on abortion funding in the Senate bill are temporary and could expire or be overturned at a later date.
"The House-passed Stupak-Pitts Amendment applies longstanding principles (no federal funding of elective abortion and no federal subsidies to plans that cover elective abortion) to everything in the House bill. In contrast, many of the ‘restrictions’ in the Senate bill, in addition to their other deficiencies, are narrow, and also temporary they are tied to whatever abortion policy is enacted each year on the Health and Human Services appropriations bill, to cover Medicaid," the letter notes.
Fourth, NRLC identifies the problem of the Senate bill paying for abortions under the Indian Health Service program.
"A permanent reauthorization of Indian health programs was added to the Senate health bill by the Reid Managers Amendment, but without the permanent ban on funding of elective abortions," the pro-life group says.
Fifth, the Senate bill contains the Mikulski amendment that would allow the Obama administration to define abortion as preventative care and force insurance plans to pay for abortions.
"Some of these provisions could be employed in the future as authority for pro-abortion mandates, requiring health plans to cover abortion and/or provide expanded access to abortion, unless there is clear language to prevent it," it says of vague language in the bill.
"Under the Mikulski Amendment, adopted by the Senate on December 3, the Department of Health and Human Services could force every private health plan to cover elective abortions merely by placing abortion on a list of ‘preventive’ services," the letter says.
Finally, the Senate bill does not contain language needed to offer full conscience protection for pro-life medical workers and facilities.
"The final bill must have strong pro-life conscience language. At a minimum, the ‘conscience’ protection provision for health care providers that was included in the House-passed health bill (H.R. 3962, Section 259, sometimes referred to as the ‘Weldon language’) should be included in the final bill," the letter said.
Ultimately, "NRLC believes that enactment of the abortion-related provisions of the Senate-passed health care bill would ultimately result in substantial expansions of abortion, driven by federal administrative decrees and federal subsidies," the letter concludes.
As a result, NRLC urges members of the House and Senate to support the Stupak amendment in the final health care bill. If the amendment or something like it is not added to the final bill, NRLC warns lawmakers they will be supporting abortion funding.
Related web sites:
NRLC letter – http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/HouseLetteronAbortionProvisions.html
National Right to Life – http://www.nrlc.org
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