Obama Won’t Demand Public Option, Battle Could Delay Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill
by Steven Ertelt
October 19, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The White House is saying that President Barack Obama is not demanding the public option in the final version of the pro-abortion, government-run health care bill. The lack of a demand is not yet helping a battle between House and Senate Democrats that could ultimately delay the abortion-funding legislation.
In an interview Sunday with NBC’s "Meet the Press," senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Obama believes the government option is the "best possible choice," but she said he is not insisting on it.
Also, the president’s top adviser, David Axelrod, downplayed the importance of a government-run insurance option and he noted how strong opposition to it in the Senate means "we have to work through these issues."
"The president has very consistently and clearly articulated his support for a public option," Axelrod said on ABC’s "This Week," but he added, "that doesn’t mean that we — we halt the process."
"There are people in the Senate — Republicans and Democrats — who have objections to that. We have to work through these issues, and we’re going to do that," he said.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is deeply involved with congressional Democrats in trying to merge the two Senate and three House bills into a single piece of legislation in both chambers, also seemed to dismiss the government option.
"It’s not the defining piece of health care. It’s whether we achieve both cost control, coverage as well as the choice," Emanuel told CNN’s "State of the Union."
Dropping the public option would help, but not eliminate, concerns about abortion funding.
When it comes to the public option, HR 3200 in the House would kick it off with $2 billion in start-up funds from the Treasury and, as amended, the bill "explicitly authorizes the Obama Administration to fund abortion for any reason under the public plan, from day one," says Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life.
"So, once the Secretary of HHS has ordered that all abortions be covered under the ‘public option,’ what would that mean? It would mean that you would not be allowed to enroll in the new government plan unless you were willing to pay an additional premium to cover the cost of elective abortions — in effect, an abortion surcharge," he explains.
Still, the White House’s comments don’t mean lawmakers in the House and Senate will back down from promoting the government option.
"I haven’t given up on this," top pro-abortion Sen. Chris Dodd said in an interview Sunday with NBC’s "Meet the Press."
And the top lawmaker in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said in a conference call with constituents three weeks ago: "We are going to have a public option before this bill goes to the president’s desk."
Meanwhile, House Democrats are insisting that there be a government option in the bill.
The process may wind up with a House version that includes the public option and a Senate version that does not — which sets up a contentious conference committee meeting where top House and Senate negotiators have to work out the differences in a way where both chambers can sign off on the compromise bill.
Either way, whether the public option is included or not, all five of the bills in the House and Senate include massive abortion subsidies that can only be fixed by adopting specific amendments to exclude it.
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