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 20, 2009
Apologists for Majority Leader Reid’s amendment to his health care reform bill will argue that it allows individuals to choose whether they purchase an insurance plan that includes abortion coverage or not. Such apologists are likely to also argue that no individual will be forced to pay for anyone else’s abortion. However, the reality is much different.
First, let us be clear, Majority Leader Reid’s amendment does not change the fact that the government will subsidize insurance plans that cover elective abortions. In departure from longstanding federal policy, section 1303(b)(1)(A) allows a “qualified health plan” “one that participates in an Exchange and is available to individuals who receive tax credits to cover part of their insurance premiums ” to include abortion coverage. Therefore, insurance plans that cover elective abortions will receive these federal subsidies.
Second, while it is true that the amendment provides that federally funded subsidies cannot directly pay for those abortions that currently cannot be paid for by federal funds under the Hyde amendment (all abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother), that separation will be rendered meaningless if the Hyde amendment, which must be added to an appropriations bill every year, is ever eliminated. Section 1303(b)(2)(A). Pro-abortion lawmakers are committed to getting rid of the Hyde Amendment, and it is perhaps not cynical to see this as the first step in a two-step plan to do that. If they succeed in getting rid of the Hyde Amendment, these new federal subsidies will directly pay for any and all abortions.
Finally, there is an additional limitation on choice in Majority Leader Reid’s amendment that has been largely ignored, and for the first time in U.S. history imposes an abortion tax on unwilling Americans. Under Majority Leader Reid’s amendment, ALL individuals who participate in plans in the Exchange that include elective abortion coverage, even if they do so unwittingly, will directly pay part of their own premiums into an account that pays for nothing but elective abortions. The amendment provides that each and every enrollee in such a plan (or their employer on their behalf) must write a separate check for elective abortion coverage, even if that enrollee never intends to have an abortion. That amount cannot be less than $12.00 per year. Sections 1303(b)(2)(B)-(D). In an apparent attempt to hide this abortion tax, the language prohibits insurance plans from emphasizing this requirement to prospective enrollees. Section 1303(b)(3)(B).
Again, apologists for this amendment will reply that individuals who do not want to pay for abortion coverage can choose an insurance plan that does not include it. However, it is not that simple. If John Doe works for XYZ, a small business, and XYZ decides to enroll John and the rest of its employees in an insurance plan that includes abortion coverage in an exchange, John and his coworkers will be forced to pay this abortion tax. Furthermore, under the Mikulski Amendment which is already added to the Health Care Reform Bill, an administrative agency may determine that abortion is “preventive care” and then require all insurance companies to cover abortion. If that happens, there will truly be no opportunities for pro-life Americans to avoid paying for others’ abortions.