Fixed it is not. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) latest health care “manager’s amendment” would STILL levy a new “abortion premium” fee on Americans under the Democrats’ health care plan. Just like the original 2,032-page, government-run health care plan from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) and the last version of Senator Reid’s 2,074-page bill, this latest 383-page amendment levies an abortion premium and does not fix the problem of government funds being used to subsidize elective abortions.
Under Reid’s “manager’s amendment,” there is no prohibition on abortion coverage in federally subsidized plans participating in the Exchange. Instead the amendment includes layers of accounting gimmicks that demand that plans participating in the Exchange or the new government-run plan that will be managed by the Office of Personnel Management must establish “allocation accounts” when elective abortion is a covered benefit (p. 41). Everyone enrolled in these plans must pay a monthly abortion premium (p. 41, lines 5-8), and these funds will be used to pay for the elective abortion services. The Reid amendment directs insurance companies to assess the cost of elective abortion coverage (p. 43), and charge a minimum of $1 per enrollee per month (p. 43, lines 20-22).
In short, the Reid bill continues to defy the will of the American people and contradict longstanding federal policy by providing federal subsidies to private health plans that cover elective abortions. The new language does include a “state opt-out” provision if a state passes a law to prohibit insurance coverage of abortion, but it’s a sham because it does nothing to prevent one state’s tax dollars from paying for elective abortions in other states.
A majority of Americans believe that health care plans should not be mandated to provide elective abortion coverage, and a majority of Americans do not believe government health care plans should include abortion coverage. Currently, federal appropriations bills include language known as the Hyde Amendment that prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, while another provision, known as the Smith Amendment, prohibits federal funding of abortion under the federal employees’ health benefits plan. Under the Reid “manager’s amendment” the new health care plan that will mirror the federal employees’ plan and be managed by the Office of Personnel Management will NOT be subject to the Smith Amendment.
Leader Reid’s latest health care proposal is an affront to the American people and drastically moves away from current policy. In a statement released by National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson said, “The new abortion language solves none of the fundamental abortion-related problems with the Senate bill, and it actually creates some new abortion-related problems.” The American people deserve more from their government than being forced to pay for abortion. The pro-life Stupak/Pitts amendment passed the House by a vote of 240 to 194, enjoying the overwhelming support of 176 Republicans and 64 Democrats. The Stupak/Pitts Amendment codifies current law by prohibiting federal funding of elective abortions under any government-run plan or plans available under the Exchange. The Reid plan ignores the will of a bipartisan majority of the House, and indeed the American people, by rejecting this bipartisan amendment.
Health care reform should not be used as an opportunity to use federal funds to pay for elective abortions. Health reform should be an opportunity to protect human life – not end it – and the American people agree. House Republicans have offered a common-sense, responsible solution that would reduce health care costs and expand access while protecting the dignity of all human life. The Republican plan, available at HealthCare.GOP.gov, would codify the Hyde Amendment and prohibit all authorized and appropriated federal funds from being used to pay for abortion. And under the Republican plan, any health plan that includes abortion coverage may not receive federal funds.
UPDATE: Here is a detailed critique of the new Reid abortion language from the National Right to Life committee.