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Response to Media Matters’ Faulty “Fact Check”

HERE are the Facts

Media Matters stated: “In a new anti-choice ad, the conservative Americans United for Life presents several nuggets of misinformation regarding how abortion is being treated in Democratic proposals for health care reform.  Because they lack any factual grounds for their argument, the group resorts to ominous music, sarcasm, and misdirection.”

Our Response: All of the statements in the advertisement are facts.  If Media Matters truly wishes to dispute the accuracy of our statements, they should do that –  not just paste in statements made by other sources about health care reform.  Nonetheless, below is the background information on our statements.

Our assertions in the ad:

1. “Senator Max Baucus’ health care bill requires the taxpayers to spend $6 billion establishing co-ops that could cover abortion.”

The Senate Finance (Baucus) Bill authorizes $6 billion in funding to create a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program, which is described on pages 43-45 of the Redline, the most recent version of the bill (note: the bill is still only written in conceptual language, not statutory language).  The purpose of the CO-OP is “to foster the creation of non-profit, member-run health insurance companies that serve individuals in one or more states.”  The Federal funds (i.e. tax dollars) will be distributed as loans and grants.

Nothing in the Senate Finance Bill states whether or not these federally-funded health insurance companies will cover abortion; however, if they do, $6 billion in federal (taxpayer) funds will be used to set up insurance companies that cover abortion.  If members of the Finance Committee did not intend for these companies to include abortion coverage in their health care plans, why did they defeat Senator Hatch’s amendment during the Finance Committee’s mark-up that would have prohibited the authorization or appropriation of federal funds for “elective abortions and plans that cover such abortions”?  (Amendment #C14, failed 13-10).

Without the inclusion of explicit language excluding abortion coverage, like the amendment offered by Senator Hatch, there is no guarantee that abortion coverage will be excluded.

2.The Capps Amendment routes federal dollars to private health insurance plans that cover abortion.

The Capps Amendment to the House health care bill, H.R. 3200, provides the following:  “In the case of a qualified health benefits plan, the plan is not required (or prohibited) under this Act from providing coverage of services described in paragraph (4)(A) or (4)(B). . . .” (Subsection (d)(2), page 1, line 12 through page 2, line 5, emphasis added).  The referenced “services“ in (4)(A) and (4)(B) are all abortions (those for which federal funding is allowed under the Hyde Amendment (rape, incest and the life of the mother) and those for which federal funding is prohibited under the Hyde Amendment).

In other words, private health care plans that cover abortion are allowed to participate in the “health insurance exchange” created by H.R. 3200.  Individuals who qualify to receive “affordability credits” (federal dollars) to help pay their insurance premiums may then select health care plans that cover abortion.  The end result ““ federal dollars subsidize health care plans that cover abortion.

Supporters of the Capps Amendment argue that this is not problematic, because the amendment establishes an accounting mechanism designed to separate the federal funds flowing into a health insurance plan that covers abortion from the portion of the premium paid by an individual.  In theory, only the portion paid by the individual may be used to pay for abortions, while the federal dollars are used to pay for non-abortion related services. The mechanism creates “silos” of money in an attempt to claim that no federal taxpayer dollars will fund abortion.

The Capps accounting mechanism is flawed because it is a restriction in name only. It will not work because money is fungible. Funds are funds, and money is freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part. Corporations, households, and small business all have one bottom line, and funding diverted away from abortion simply allows “unearmarked” money that a health plan would otherwise have used to pay for other types of care to flow towards abortion services. For instance, if your household received a tax credit to pay for child care, that would free up the money you had budgeted for child care expenses, allowing you to spend those dollars on other household expenses. Your household realizes a net gain of the amount of the child care tax credit.

Under Capps, even if certain funds have restrictions on use for abortion, an abortion-providing health care entity can simply substitute unrestricted funding in its place. In this way, federal taxpayers are supporting plans which offer abortion coverage and contributing funds towards the provision of abortion.

3. The Capps Amendment will include abortion in the public option . . .

The Capps Amendment provides that “[t]he public health insurance option shall provide coverage for services described in paragraph (4)(B) [“abortions for which funding is allowed” under the Hyde Amendment, currently in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother].  Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the public health insurance option from providing for or prohibiting coverage of services described in paragraph (4)(A) [“abortions for which public funding is prohibited” under the Hyde Amendment]” (Subsection (d)(3), page 2, line 6 through 12, emphasis and brackets added).

In other words, the Capps amendment requires the public option to cover any abortions for which federal funding is currently allowed under the Hyde Amendment (rape, incest, and the life of the mother).  Therefore, in the event that the Hyde Amendment is ever eliminated or its exceptions are broadened, coverage of more or all abortions would be required.

Furthermore, the amendment permits the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to include elective abortion (Sec. (4)(A)) as a mandatory minimum benefit in the public option.  There is little doubt that abortion will be included in the public option, given the proabortion stance of the current Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, and President Obama’s statement at a Planned Parenthood conference on July 17, 2007:  “In my mind, reproductive care [i.e. abortion] is essential care, it is basic care . . . so it is at the center and at the heart of the plan that I proposed . . . .”

4. . . . and ensures that every area of the country will have at least one health insurance plan that covers abortion.

The Capps Amendment provides that “[t]he Commissioner shall assure that, of Exchange participating health benefits plans offered in each premium rating area of the Health Insurance Exchange””there is at least one such plan that provides coverage of services described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of section 122(d)(4) . . .” (Subsection (e), page 3, line 5 through page 4, line 14).

In other words, for the first time in history, the federal government will ensure that every area of the country has access to a private health insurance plan that includes abortion coverage.

5. All five committees defeated amendments that would have stopped an abortion mandate in health care reform.

Below are the amendments defeated in the five committees of jurisdiction (three in the House and two in the Senate) that would have prohibited abortion coverage and funding:

House Ways and Means Committee

The amendment offered by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) to prohibit abortion coverage failed by a vote of 18-23.

The amendment offered by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) to prohibit abortion funding failed by a vote of 19-22.

House Education and Labor Committee

The two amendments offered by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) to prohibit abortion coverage and funding failed by votes of 19-29.

House Energy and Commerce Committee

The two amendments offered by Rep. Stupak (D-MI) and Pitts (R-PA) to prohibit abortion coverage and funding failed by a vote of 30-29 and 27-31, respectively.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

An amendment offered by Sen. Hatch (R-UT) to prohibit abortions funding failed. (amdt. 227).

An amendment offered by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) to prohibit abortion coverage failed (amdt. 276).

Senate Finance Committee

An amendment by Senator Hatch (R-UT) (#C14) to prohibit the authorization or appropriation of federal funds for “elective abortions and plans that cover such abortions,” with an exception for rape, incest, or the life of the mother failed 13-10.

6. The pro-abortion legislators are telling you that the Hyde Amendment will stop federally funded abortions in health care reform.  Don’t be fooled. The Hyde Amendment does not apply to the current health care reform proposals.

The Hyde Amendment is a spending limitation added to the yearly Labor, Health & Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations bill to prohibit federal funding from being used to pay for abortions, except in the cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.  Spending falls under Hyde if:

1) The money is appropriated yearly through the Appropriations process, AND

2) The money flows through HHS (as with Medicaid).

Both 1 & 2 are required for Hyde to apply. The Hyde Amendment is used to prevent Medicaid funds from being used to pay for abortion.

None of the new benefits discussed above meet both of these criteria.  Therefore, the Hyde Amendment will not apply to them.

  • H.R. 3200 establishes a separate funding mechanism for the affordability credits (it bypasses the Appropriations process).  The credits are routed through a newly established Trust Fund financed through taxes on, among other sources, individuals and small businesses who do not meet health insurance coverage mandates. (See Sec. 207 (c)(2)).  Funding for the affordability credits neither runs through HHS nor depends upon the yearly Appropriations process; therefore, Hyde does not apply.
  • In the Senate HELP Bill, the Hyde Amendment will not apply toward the tax credits because the HELP bill bypasses the Appropriations process (See Sec. 3111). Funding for the tax credits will not depend upon the yearly Appropriations process; therefore, Hyde does not apply.
  • In the Senate Finance Bill, the Hyde Amendment will not apply toward the tax credits because the Baucus bill bypasses the Appropriations process.  Funding for the tax credits will not depend upon the yearly Appropriations process; therefore, Hyde does not apply.

7. President Obama and congress, when will you write explicit language excluding abortion from health care reform? America wants to know.  Don’t let your tax dollars go to abortion.

The detailed explanations above demonstrate that the health care reform proposals under consideration provide for federal coverage and funding for abortion.  All are changes in the status quo on abortion.  Without explicit language excluding abortion coverage and funding, these proposals will lead America down the road to paying for the destruction of innocent human life.