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Legal Analysis of Life Concerns in President’s Proposal (Same as the Senate Health Care Reform Bill)

February 22, 2010 Update

On Monday morning, February 22, 2010, President Obama unveiled a “new” health care reform proposal.  The White House proposal is a modification of the Senate-passed bill.  However, the White House failed to remove the anti-life language.  Therefore, all of AUL’s concerns about the bill’s abortion-related provisions, conscience provision, and end-of-life provisions remain.  Further, the White House proposal dramatically increases funding by 11 billion dollars for “community health centers” which will include Planned Parenthood abortion centers.  Because the proposal lacks a blanket prohibition on the use of federal funds for abortions, these new funds could be used to directly pay for abortions.

December 24, 2009 Update

Majority Leader Reid’s Manager’s Amendment is part of the Senate health care reform bill that passed the Senate on December 24,2009 by a vote of 60-39.

December 19, 2009

“Majority Leader Reid’s amendment to the Senate health care bill absolutely fails to meet abortion and life protections that exist in current federal law and policy.  It does not prevent federal funding of plans that include abortion coverage, it does not adequately protect health care providers who choose to exercise their rights of conscience, and it does not prevent government involvement in assisted suicide. A vast majority of the American people are opposed to these policies and will make themselves heard loudly over the coming days.” Charmaine Yoest

AUL’s Legal Analysis of Life Concerns in Manager’s Amendment:

From a preliminary analysis of Majority Leader Reid’s manager’s amendment, it is clear that it is unacceptable and would be a radical departure from existing law and policy.

First, the amendment provides inadequate conscience protection, because it does not prohibit any government entity or program (federal, state, or local) from discriminating against health care providers that do not want to participate in abortions.

Second, the amendment fails to address our concerns that under the Mikulski amendment (already accepted in the underlying bill), the Health Resources and services Administration (HRSA) has the power to require private insurance plans to include abortion coverage under the guise of “preventive care.”

Third, the amendment allows insurance plans that cover abortions to receive government subsidies, which is a radical departure from existing law (which is not allowed under the Hyde Amendment and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program).

Fourth, while the amendment allows states to “opt out” of allowing private plans that include abortion coverage to participate in their exchanges, this “opt out” provision makes abortion coverage normative.  In other words, states will have to act to prevent subsidies from going to plans that cover abortions in their state, turning on its head the traditional federal approach to abortion.

Fifth, the amendment fails to ensure federal funds will not go to assisted suicide and fails to address concerns that Comparative Effectiveness Research will lead to rationing of essential medical care.