Posts Tagged ‘abortion’
Health Care News
As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, much attention has been paid to the constitutional questions surrounding the individual mandate—and rightly so. Considerable attention has also focused on the ways Obamacare has already and will further harm our nation’s health care and how it has trampled religious liberty. But we shouldn’t forget something even more fundamental to justice: Obamacare is hostile to life, and it set a new precedent by federally subsidizing abortion.
An article by Bill Saunders and Anna Franzonello in the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy explains the health law’s shift in federal abortion policy. Prior to the passage of Obamacare, long-standing policy was that federal tax dollars were not to be used to pay for abortion or to pay for plans that cover abortions. As they note: “At the time of the health care reform debate, no government health plans covered elective abortion, including Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and other programs. The ‘status quo’ prior to the PPACA was that federal tax dollars are not used to pay for abortion nor for insurance plans that cover abortions.”
Health Care News
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) submitted a final rulemaking on the state health insurance exchanges that created yet another accounting shell game, one that could force private citizens to pay for coverage of elective abortions.
Beginning in 2014, individuals forced to purchase health insurance under Obamacare’s individual mandate will look to state exchanges to purchase qualified health plans and avoid federal fines. For millions of low- and middle-income individuals and families, the federal government will provide “affordability tax credits” to cover the costs of participating in the state exchanges.
When legislative efforts failed to apply Hyde amendment language to the entirety of Obamacare, concerns were raised that the new taxpayer-funded affordability credits could be used to fund health insurance plans in state exchanges that included coverage of abortion.
Dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine Edward Miller writes in the Wall Street Journal:
“Both the House and Senate health-care reform bills call for a large increase in Medicaid—about 18 million more people will begin enrolling in Medicaid under the House bill starting in 2013, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Actuary Richard Foster estimates.
A flood of new patients will be seeking health services, many of whom have never seen a doctor on more than a sporadic basis. Some will also have multiple and costly chronic conditions. And almost all of them will come from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds.
We’ll meet the demands placed on us because serving poor and disadvantaged populations is part of our century-old mission. But without an understanding by policy makers of what a large Medicaid expansion actually means, and without delivery-system reform and adequate risk-adjusted reimbursement the current health-care legislation will have catastrophic effects on those of us who provide society’s health-care safety-net. In time, those effects will be felt by all of us.”
Read Miller’s entire op-ed here.
Abortion, the public option, and the individual and employer mandates are all important issues in the health care debate. But Miller’s op-ed reminds us that not enough attention has been paid to the fact that in both the House and Senate bills almost half of all new insurance coverage gained through “reform” is accomplished through expansion of Medicaid eligibility requirements. The only reason Medicaid carries such a heavy load under Obamacare is because the Congressional Budget Office scores it as an inexpensive way too expand health insurance coverage. Go here to see a large, printable PDF of Heritage’s Medicaid expansion chart.
The issue of federal funding of abortion may throw a monkey wrench into the Obamacare debate this week. As early as today, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) are expected to offer something very similar to Congressman Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) amendment to extend the current ban on federally funded abortion to Obamacare. If and only if, members of the Senate properly protect their procedural rights during this debate, this amendment may make it impossible for the bill to reach President Obama’s desk by January.
Once Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) files the Nelson-Hatch amendment, pro-abortion Senators in the Democratic caucus like Claire McCaskill (D-MO) will have a difficult decision to make: Do they vote for cloture, ending debate, and allow an up-or-down vote on the Nelson-Hatch amendment, or do they vote for a filibuster? If they vote to end debate and allow the vote, it is likely, maybe even probable, that 51 other Senators will vote in favor of the taxpayer-abortion-funding ban.
Once the abortion funding ban is in the bill, it will be next to impossible for pro-abortion forces to get it out. They will be in the same exact position House progressives were when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) forced them to accept the Stupak language or lose Obamacare entirely. Progressives in the House completely caved the first time around, but more strident pro-abortion members like Rep. Diana Degette (D-CO) have promised that the second time around they will stand up for their principals and vote down any Obamacare bill that comes contains Stupak like language.
But even if Degette and McCaskill get their way and Obamacare does give taxpayer dollars to pay for elective abortions, then pro-life House Democrats may vote against the bill out of conference as well. No matter what happens with the Nelson-Hatch Amendment in the Senate, the abortion issue may complicate the roadmap to a signing ceremony for those who desire Obamacare.
With very peccable timing, a handful of local officials are launching legislative assaults on popular pregnancy care centers even as Congress debates health care reforms it claims will promote more choice and competition. The assaults began in Baltimore where the City Council passed a law last week imposing regulations and penalties on the overwhelmingly privately funded centers that provide pregnancy-related services to some of the city’s neediest women.
The Council’s ostensible concern was that the centers misrepresent their services by failing to inform new clients what they don’t offer – abortion and contraceptives. What the centers do offer is not in dispute and is widely valued by their clients – confirmation of pregnancy; sexually transmitted infection/disease counseling; relationship counseling; food, clothing and prenatal vitamins; and referral to an array of community resources for family and medical support – all services provided at little or no cost to the clients or to taxpayers.
Baltimore officials rejected suggestions from some council members that it regulate Planned Parenthood of Maryland and other agencies that offer abortion and contraception, but do not provide material assistance to mothers. Meanwhile, officials in Montgomery County, Maryland are taking up the issue as well.
Ironically, these challenges follow on the heels of newly published information about the quality and depth of the services pregnancy resource centers provide in the United States. The information was quantified for the first time in a collaborative report released by the Family Research Council in September. The report demonstrates the medical accuracy standards the centers follow and the international scope of their networks. Among other findings, the centers:
– Assist an average of 5,500 Americans daily with sexuality-and pregnancy-related concerns;
– Offer parenting classes to new mothers through nearly 70 percent of centers nationwide;
– Provide medically referenced literature, reviewed by national-level experts, on prenatal/fetal development, risk avoidance/primary prevention of sexually transmitted infection and disease, and the physical and psychological risks of abortion;
– Provide live, 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-per-week accessibility to centers via Option Line, a national telephone hotline and web site that averages 20,000 contacts per month;
– Includes an international network of more than 60 centers in Canada, and another 40-plus countries worldwide from Romania, to Vietnam, to Zambia, and beyond;
– Rely on the engagement of more than 40,000 trained volunteers, including professional counselors and medical personnel, many of whom were honored last year at the White House.
With a national debate underway over cost containment and patient choice in health care, attacks on the privately supported and publicly popular centers are incomprehensible.
Health Care News
The Senate voted this evening by a 60-39 majority to commence debate on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill that would radically expand government control over private health care decisions. The bill is over 2000 pages long, costs an estimated $2.5 trillion over the first ten years of implementation and carries a half trillion dollars in new taxes. Many Americans have to be thinking right now — they have heard from their dissenting constituents at Town Hall meetings and have seen the poll numbers for Obama’s health care bill dropping like a rock so why would they keep moving this bill forward?
1. Abortion: Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) offered an amendment to the House bill to ban all federal funds flowing into the health care system from funding abortion. Senator Reid put language in the bill that allows some funds to go to abortion services by using an accounting gimmick. This issue could take the bill down, because the House approach is far different from the Senate approach. If this bill becomes a referendum on abortion policy, it may fail. (more…)
Health Care News
Ironically, the very first group to feel the effects of the pending federal government takeover of the health care system are among the closest political allies of President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—those who strongly support the cause of “abortion rights”.
Opponents of the latest House restriction on taxpayer funding of abortion are trying to argue that they merely desire to preserve the status quo. They apparently failed to grasp what conservatives have been warning them, and everyone else who will listen, all along—the status quo cannot, and will not, continue to exist. Change, as the President likes to say, is coming. Big Change.
When government is put in the position of making decisions about what will be funded and what will not be funded, that is exactly what it will do—decide what and who gets the funding. It is not a personal decision anymore; its not a market decision, nor even an economic decision. It’s a political decision. (more…)
Health Care News
Earlier today, The Foundry wrote about Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich) claim that he and like-minded, pro-life Democrats will work with Republicans to “torpedo healthcare reform unless he gets a vote to strip abortion-related provisions out of the House bill,” as reported by The Hill.
That sounded like good news, but in an exclusive Foundry video of a town hall held in Cheboygan, Mich., on Saturday, it appears that Stupak intends to vote for the Democrats’ healthcare reform, even if it includes public funding for abortion.
If everything I want [is] in the final bill, I like everything in the bill except you have public funding for abortion, and we had a chance to run our amendment and we lost. OK, I voted my conscience, stayed true to my principles, stayed true to the beliefs of this district, could I vote for healthcare? Yes I still could.
However, in an interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Monday, Stupak said he and about 40 like-minded Democrats oppose public funding for abortion in health care:
We believe, and the majority of the American people believe, that we should not be using public funds to pay for abortion coverage in health care.
It’s worth noting that Stupak’s remarks came just after he announced a policy banning constituents from videotaping his public meetings.
Health Care News
It looks like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) isn’t happy with Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak’s efforts to make sure that taxpayer dollars do not pay for abortions in any new health care plan and, according to The Hill, “he may work with Republicans to torpedo healthcare reform unless he gets a vote to strip abortion-related provisions out of the House bill.” (more…)
Health Care News
Fact checking President Barack Obama’s health care speech, the Associated Press reports: “The president’s speech to Congress contained a variety of oversimplifications and omissions in laying out what he wants to do about health insurance.” That is an understatement. We counted no less than 15 spurious claims made by the President, including:
1. OBAMA: “There are now more than thirty million American citizens who cannot get coverage.”
THE FACTS: On August 8th, President Obama said: “Reform is obviously essential for the 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance.” So did 16 million uninsured people just disappear in the span of two months? Not quite. The problem is that the 46 million number was always highly misleading and the new 30 million number isn’t much better. According to an analysis based on the 2007 Census data there were 45.7 million uninsured people in the U.S. in 2007. But 9.3 million of those were non-citizens. Another 6.4 million actually are enrolled in Medicaid but mistakenly tell the Census they have no health insurance. Another 4.3 million are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP but have not signed up. Another 10 million have no insurance, but also make more than 3X the poverty level. That means only 15.6 million U.S. citizens with incomes below 300% of poverty and that are nor already eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance, are uninsured.
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