Baucus Changes Health Care Bill, Reduces But Doesn’t Eliminate Abortion Concern

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 23, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Baucus Changes Health Care Bill, Reduces But Doesn’t Eliminate Abortion Concern

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 23
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — In an effort to gain more support from members of the Senate Finance Committee who do not support his bill, Sen. Max Baucus unveiled a modification of the legislation on Tuesday. The modified bill reduces — but doesn’t come anywhere close to eliminating — the abortion concerns pro-life groups have.

The original Baucus bill made it so abortions allowed under the Hyde amendment could be mandated in the health care scheme it sets up.

For pro-life groups, this meant that if the Hyde amendment were ever overturned — something pro-abortion groups admitted on Monday is on their agenda — abortions for any reason could have been mandated in the required essential benefits.

If the conceptual language is adopted, the modified Baucus bill changes that provision to say that no abortions can be mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services — making it appear that the Baucus proposal will now mirror the Capps amendment policy found in the House bill, HR 3200.

Though the revised Baucus bill fixes one concern, it does not tackle the list of problems pro-life organizations have with the bill and all of those abortion subsidy concerns remain.

"The bill contains provisions that would send massive federal subsidies directly to both private insurance plans and government-chartered cooperatives that pay for elective abortion," Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee previously explained.

"In addition, the Baucus bill requires that a specific charge must be included in the premiums paid by those who enroll in such subsidized plans, of at least ‘$1 per enrollee, per month,’ which amounts to a surcharge specifically for elective abortions," he said. "The Baucus bill provides $6 billion in federal funds for the establishment of health insurance cooperatives, without any limitation on the use of these funds to pay for abortions or to subsidize plans that pay for elective abortions."

To fix these problems, pro-life senators have proposed a handful of amendments that the committee will vote on as soon by Friday, but possibly as soon as today.

Looking at other changes to the Baucus bill under the modification, on the down side, the revised Baucus bill also incorporates an amendment pro-abortion Sen. Debbie Stabenow planned to offer this week that would expand eligibility for family planning coverage under Medicaid and establish school-based health centers.

The centers have long been controversial in the sense that they could provide drugs that could cause abortions to girls without parental knowledge or consent or refer teens for abortions.

ACTION: Contact members of the Senate Finance Committee and urge them to support amendments to make sure abortion funding and coverage are specifically excluded from the Baucus bill. You can find members of the panel here.

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