Yesterday, President Obama signaled his support for passing the Senate health care bill in the House alongside a reconciliation package of fixes, but pro-life Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) have pledged to oppose the Senate bill unless Congress strengthens the prohibitions against federal funding of abortion. Following Obama’s address, Stupak appeared on MSNBC and Good Morning America to argue that the Senate health care bill allows for public funding for abortion:
STUPAK: In the Senate bill, it says ‘you must offer insurance policies that will be paid for by the federal government that covers abortion.’ ‘You must do so.’…Also, in the OPM, Office of Personnel Management, policies they will be putting forth, you must pay, every enrollee must pay one dollar per month into a fund to help fund abortions.
Watch a compilation:
Stupak may have confused his page numbers, but pages 2069-2078 of the Senate health care bill clearly prohibit federal dollars from funding non-Hyde abortions. In fact, contrary to Stupak’s claim, page 2017 (lines 18-21) of the Senate bill give insures the choice of providing abortion coverage. “The issuer of a qualified health plan shall determine whether or not the plan provides coverage [for abortion].” If the carrier chooses to provide abortion coverage, “the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to any of the following for purposes of paying for [abortion] services,” the bill says, before barring insurers from using government premium credits and cost sharing reductions to finance abortion coverage.
Furthermore, the bill requires insurers to “collect from each enrollee in the plan (without regard to the enrollee’s age, sex, or family status) a separate payment” for abortion services and deposit the payments into separate “allocation” account. “The issuer of the plan shall deposit…all payments described in subparagraph (B)(i)(I) into a separate account that consists solely of such payments and that is used exclusively to pay for services other than services described in paragraph (1)(B)(i).”
Ironically, Stupak’s second concern about paying at least $1 into a reserve fund for abortion coverage was actually included in the legislation to allay pro-life concerns and ensure that no taxpayer money is spent on abortion. The $1 is coming out of private premiums, not public dollars, and is a way of ensuring that carriers have sufficient funds to cover the services they offer. But Stupak is just shifting the goal posts. First he complained about taxpayer funding for abortion and once Democrats strengthened the Senate language, he began arguing that private funds will not go towards abortion coverage. He simply can’t have it both ways.
If Democrats decide to change the Senate’s abortion language, they may have to add the provision to a separate non-reconciliation measure, but it’s still unclear that Stupak would vote for reform. On Monday, Stupak told the Wall Street Journal that “abortion isn’t the only issue that will keep him from voting for the Senate bill if Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings it to the House floor.” “It’d be very hard to vote for this bill even if they fixed the abortion language,” he said. Asked whether there was any way he would vote for the current package, he had one word: “Nope.”
Faith In Public Life has has a great fact check.