Senate Backs Mikulski Amdt, Could Require All Insurance Plans to Cover Abortions
by Steven Ertelt
December 3, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Senators approved an amendment to the government-run health care bill today that could call abortion "preventative care." They voted 61-39 in favor of the Mikulski amendment that could make it so every health care plan in the United States would have to cover abortion.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a pro-abortion Maryland Democrat, offered Amendment No. 2791 dealing with federally mandated coverage of "preventive care."
Though most of the discussion on the amendment centered on a mammogram coverage problem in the bill, it presents significant concerns for pro-life advocates.
The Mikulski amendment would essentially open the door to defining abortion as "preventative care" and could result in mandates to private insurance plans that they define abortion as such and provide coverage of it.
The Mikulski amendment would be placed into the "individual and group market reforms" section at the very beginning of the Senate health care reform bill requiring global "reforms" that would affect all health care plans.
These requirements will bind every health plan in the nation aside from whether or not a given plan seeks to meet or does meet the requirements of a "qualified health plan" eligible to participate in the exchange.
Ultimately, if the Mikulski amendment becomes law, and if pro-abortion HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defined abortion to be "preventive care," then every health care plan would have to cover abortion, and without charging any copayments.
Prior to the vote, pro-life organizations asked members of the Senate to oppose the amendment.
"If Congress were to grant any Executive Branch entity sweeping authority to define services that private health plans must cover, merely by declaring a given service to constitute ‘preventive care’ then that authority could be employed in the future to require all health plans to cover abortions," a letter from the National Right to Life Committee to lawmakers said.
"Therefore, NRLC opposes both the Mikulski Amendment No.2791, and the underlying language of Section 1001, unless additional language is added to explicitly exclude abortion from the universe of services that might be mandated as ‘preventive care,’" the pre-vote letter added.
Updating his analysis for LifeNews.com today, NRLC legislative director Douglas Johnson indicated that other sections of the bill that bars the HHS Secretary from putting abortion on the "essential health benefits package" list would no longer be relevant because "every health plan in the U.S. would already be forced to cover all abortions under the global ‘preventive care’ mandate issued under authority of Sec. 1001 of the bill, as amended by Mikulski."
Americans United for Life and the Family Research Council, among other pro-life groups, joined NRLC in asking senators to oppose the Mikulski amendment because of the abortion promotion concerns.
AUL staff attorney Mary Harned released her own analysis of the amendment and said her group opposed it.
"The Mikulski amendment, in pertinent part, requires group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance to provide coverage for and not impose cost sharing requirements on ‘preventative care’ for women ‘as provided for in comprehensive guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA),’" she explained.
National Right to Life said the concerns are not hypothetical and pointed out how the pro-abortion movement has talked about making abortion considered as "preventative care."
A 2009 publication cosponsored by the National Abortion Federation, Providing Abortion Care, explicitly stated that " APCs [ Advanced Practice Clinicians] are especially well positioned within the health care system to address women’s need for comprehensive primary preventive health care that includes abortion care."
This is the second time Mikulski has offered an abortion-promoting amendment and a similar one was added to the Senate HELP Committee version of the health care bill this summer.
At that time, her amendment had the support of the abortion industry, with groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood sending a letter in support saying that it would allow the Health Resources and Services Administration to issue binding guidelines on preventive services.
NRLC described how the amendment would change the bill to promote abortion further.
Section 1001 of Senator Reid’s pending substitute, the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," would create a new Section 2713 of the Public Health Services Act, dealing with "Preventive Health Services."
Under this provision, all private health plans would be mandated to cover, without cost-sharing, "(1) evidence-based items or services that have in effect a rating of ‘A’ or’ B ‘ in the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task
NRLC says: "The Mikulski Amendment No.2791 retains that mandate, but further specifies that all health plans would also be mandated to cover ‘with respect to women, such additional preventive care and screenings not described in paragraph (1) as provided for in comprehensive guidelines supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration for purposes of this paragraph.’"
As a result, NRLC explains that the "Reid language makes the ‘recommendations’ of the United States Preventive Services Task Force, regarding ‘preventive services,’ into mandates that will bind all health plans."
"The Mikulski Amendment No.2791 would further empower political appointees at the HRSA to issue mandates that all health plans cover any service ‘with respect to women’ that is declared to constitute ‘preventive care,’ [meaning abortion]," the letter concludes.
ACTION: Contact your members of the Senate and tell them your thoughts on how they voted on the pro-abortion Mikulski amendment. Click here to see how your lawmakers voted.
Related web sites:
National Right to Life – https://www.NRLC.org
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