Senate Committee to Vote on Pro-Abortion Baucus Health Care Bill This Week
by Steven Ertelt
October 6, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — After rejecting pro-life amendments last week that would have ensured the Baucus health care bill does not fund abortions and to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals, the Senate Finance Committee plans to vote on the legislation later this week.
The vote had been expected as early as Tuesday but the panel’s chairman and the sponsor of the measure, pro-abortion Sen. Max Baucus, promised members of the committee that a vote would not occur until it received a financial analysis of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office.
The finance panel is the last of five Congressional committees — two in the Senate and three in the House — to approve different health care bills.
Each of them, including the Kennedy measure in the Senate and the three versions of HR 3200 in the House, include massive abortion funding and mandates.
Democrats control the Senate Finance Committee on a 13-10 vote and the Baucus bill is expected to mostly receive a party-line vote with a few exceptions.
Senator Olympia Snowe, a pro-abortion Maine Republican, could join Democrats in voting for the Baucus measure.
Pro-abortion Sens. Ron Wyden and John Rockefeller, of Oregon and West Virginia, have not endorsed the measure because they want the government-run health care option added to it. That would open the Baucus bill up to even more abortion funding.
If the committee passes the measure, pro-abortion Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have to combine the contrasting Baucus and Kennedy bills into one measure for the Senate to consider. He has called for votes on a combined bill sometime during the middle of the month.
On a 13-10 vote, the Senate Finance Committee rejected amendments from Sen. Orrin Hatch that would have the bill conform to current federal law prohibiting direct abortion funding.
Hatch amendment 355 would make it so the Baucus bill "prohibits authorized or appropriated federal funds under this Mark from being used for elective abortions and plans that cover such abortions."
The otherwise party-line vote saw Snowe side with Democrats against it and Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota join Republicans in supporting it.
The panel also rejected a second pro-life amendment that would have offered protection for medical workers who don’t want to participate in or refer for abortions.
Hatch offered his conscience protection amendment, number 354, which mirrors the Hyde-Weldon appropriations language.
Hyde-Weldon is a temporary federal law that President George W. Bush signed into law in December 2004 that protects hospitals, health insurance companies and medical professionals who don’t want to pay for or perform abortions.
The committee defeated it on the same 13-10 vote as the funding amendment.
The committee also defeated a pro-life amendment to stop rationing.
Sen. Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican, brought the amendment out of a concern, shared by pro-life groups, that one provision of the measure penalizes Medicare doctors who provide higher levels of medical treatment to senior citizens.
Kyl and Senator Pat Roberts, a pro-life Kansas Republican, sponsored the change.
The amendment would have removed a provision that establishes that, for at least five years, Medicare physicians who authorize treatments for their patients that wind up in the top 10% of per capita cost for a year will lose 5% of their total Medicare reimbursements for that year.
Pro-life advocates say the provision means that all doctors treating older people will constantly be driven to try to order the least expensive tests and treatments for fear that they will be caught in that top 10%.
ACTION: Contact members of the committee at https://finance.senate.gov and urge a no vote on the pro-abortion Baucus bill.
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