Will The Alexander-Murray Health Care “Deal” to Salvage Obamacare Also Fund Abortions?

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 18, 2017   |   10:36AM   |   Washington, DC

Because of a few Republican Senators refused to go along with the reconciliation bill that would defund Planned Parenthood and either repeal Obamacare or reform it considerably, members of the Senate have been looking at a new plan to make changes to the ObamaCare Health Care program that so many Americans oppose.

Unfortunately the latest attempt to tinker with Obamacare could result in more taxpayer funding of abortion.

As pro-life voters know, ObamaCare funds abortions and that was one of the main problems pro-life organizations had with the legislation in the first place. The Obama Care program continues to put taxpayer dollars towards healthcare plans that pay for abortions and one conservative writer believes the new deal proposed by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray would exacerbate the problem.

Here is analysis from Christopher Jacobs of the Federalists:

Amidst the rumored press reports about what the supposed “insurer stabilization bill” negotiated between Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) may contain, one Twitter commenter made an astute observation: Unless the agreement contained explicit language forbidding it—language Murray likely would not endorse—the agreement will appropriate approximately $25-30 billion to subsidize insurance plans that cover abortion.

That fact alone should give conservatives pause. Coming on a week when Senate Republican leaders seek to pass a budget precluding another attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, the Alexander-Murray deal would not only fail to advance the pro-life cause, it would, by extending subsidies to insurers who cover abortions, actively undermine it.

Obamacare contained just such funds—for instance, the premium tax credits used to subsidize plans on insurance exchanges. While Obamacare includes a “segregation mechanism” designed to separate the portion of premium payments used to cover abortion, pro-life groups have recognized this mechanism as an accounting gimmick—one the Obama administration didn’t even bother to enforce.

When extending the community health center funding as part of a larger Medicare bill in spring 2015, Republican leaders recognized the lack of pro-life protections, and insisted on adding them to extend the mandatory health center funding. As a result, Section 221(c) of the bill (page 68 here) said that the same requirements that applied to other Public Health Service Act funding provisions—that is, the Hyde Amendment funding restrictions—would also apply to the community health center funding.

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However, if Alexander does not explicitly add the Hyde Amendment protections to the “stabilization bill,” the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers will be used to fund plans that cover abortion. There is little reason to believe Murray would endorse such a restriction. If the Hyde Amendment restrictions apply to the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, then in order to receive said payments, it is likely insurers would have to stop offering abortion coverage on exchanges—an outcome Murray, and Democrats, would not wish to countenance.

How much could the Alexander-Murray deal spend to fund abortions?

The “stabilization bill” would likely seek to provide massive funding amounts to insurers—roughly $3 to $4 billion for the rest of this calendar year, and $10 to $11 billion for each of years 2018 and 2019, based on Congressional Budget Office spending estimates. These significant sums would surely represent the second-largest expansion of federal abortion funding, behind only Obamacare itself.

Today, President Trump has come out in opposition of the deal, albeit for other political reasons. But if the deal opens up the spigot for abortion funding then pro-life groups should join him in opposing it.