Obama’s Promise to Pro-Life Democrats Wasn’t Worth the Paper It Was Written On

Opinion   |   William Saunders and Mary Harned   |   Sep 24, 2014   |   4:59PM   |   Washington, DC

The Obama Administration has again failed to honor promises made to pro-life Democrats that were necessary to ensure the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare).  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report last week revealing that the Administration has done virtually nothing to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to pay for abortions through insurance plans in the new state Exchanges.

This should not be a surprise—this is not the Administration’s first negligent or intentional failure to comply with the “compromise” drafted by then-Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) in 2010 and repeated in the President’s executive order.  Ironically, the GAO report reveals that they actively work to circumvent the law they designed.

pichealth45While the ACA contains Senator Nelson’s accounting gimmick that is supposed to require individuals enrolled in insurance plans that cover abortion through the new state Exchanges to pay two separate premiums—one that covers abortion exclusively, and one that covers legitimate healthcare and can be commingled with taxpayer subsidies—we now have proof that this scheme is an utter failure.

The insurance issuers (that cover abortions) interviewed by the GAO are not collecting two separate premiums, and at least some states and insurance issuers do not have a system for segregating an abortion premium from taxpayer funds.  The Obama Administration told the GAO that states and insurance commissioners, not the federal government, are primarily responsible for “implementing” the law.

A technical point perhaps—but given that concern over taxpayer funding for abortion nearly torpedoed the ACA, the Obama Administration’s failure to ensure that taxpayer funds do not pay for abortions in these plans is astonishing.

In response to the outcry over the GAO report, the Administration now states that they “will work with stakeholders, including states and issuers, so they fully understand and comply with the federal law prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions.”  Exactly what kind of guidance they will provide remains to be seen.

Given that employees with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have already been telling insurance issuers that they do not need to collect two separate premiums, the outlook for adequate enforcement of the law is not good.

This is just the most recent fumble in the implementation of an anti-life law characterized by federalism struggles, crippling individual and employer mandates, executive orders and federal rules not grounded in the statute, restrictions on First Amendment freedoms, delays in implementation, abandoned political assurances, and hundreds of lawsuits.  What surfaces next is anyone’s guess.