Today's installment is prompted by a story from the Associated Press describing how health insurance bills now before Congress would allow federally-subsidized coverage of abortion, even outside "public" plans:
For years, abortion rights supporters and abortion opponents have waged the equivalent of trench warfare over restrictions on federal funding. Abortion opponents have largely prevailed, instituting restrictions that bar federal funding for abortion, except in cases of rape and incest or if the mother's life would be endangered.The story also notes that a compromise approved by a House committee last week would allow the public plan to cover abortion but without using federal funds, only dollars from beneficiary premiums, and that private plans in the new insurance exchange could opt to cover abortion, but no federal subsidies could be used to pay for the procedure. As pointed out by Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, "It's a sham. . . It's a bookkeeping scheme. The plan pays for abortion, and the government subsidizes the plan."
A law called the Hyde amendment applies the restrictions to Medicaid, forcing states that cover abortion for low-income women to do so with their own money. Separate laws apply the restrictions to the federal employee health plan and military and other programs.
But the health overhaul would create a stream of federal funding not covered by the restrictions.
The new federal funds would take the form of subsidies for low- and middle-income people buying coverage through the health insurance exchange. Subsidies would be available for people to buy the public plan or private coverage. Making things more complicated, the federal subsidies would be mixed in with contributions from individuals and employers. Eventually, most Americans could end up getting their coverage through the exchange.
The Democratic health care legislation as originally introduced in the House and Senate did not mention abortion. That rang alarm bells for abortion opponents.
Since abortion is a legal medical procedure, experts on both sides say not mentioning it would allow health care plans in the new insurance exchange to provide unrestricted coverage.
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In the Senate, the plan passed by the health committee is still largely silent on the abortion issue. Staff aides confirmed that the public plan -- and private insurance offered in the exchange -- would be allowed to cover abortion, without funding restrictions.
Under both the House and Senate approaches, the decision to offer abortion coverage in the public plan would be made by the health and human services secretary.
One comment to this story is especially apt:
One of my fears about this whole health care bill is that it would allow the administration to add new social spending under the guise of health care. Abortion, public funding of drug treatment etc could all be added by presidential fiat. I envision liberals will want to add all manner of social education programs and call it health care. With government mandates on what must be covered no one could escape paying for whatever the administration deems is necessary. Congress isn't going to run this, it will all be done by regulators. We could end up with enormous health care costs that don't end up benefiting the majority of people who lead responsible lives.This is indeed "nightmare legislation." When abortion advocates can't accomplish taxpayer-funded infanticide directly, they go through the back door to enable it in the guise of sweeping "health care reform." As I noted in my an earlier post, perhaps the most insidious aspect of the various proposals now being considered by Congress is that they insinuate government influence, policy preferences, and ultimate direction into the means by which we care for our own and our families' health and lives. At what point will especially young, old, or ill mothers be forced into abortions because bureaucrats or "plan administrators" decide that giving birth to their babies is too expensive or too risky (in other words, a poor policy choice)? With the government holding the purse strings and having the power to determine coverages, directly or indirectly, it could happen. God forbid.