Diocesan News

Six Reasons to Oppose the Senate Health Care Reform Bill

(SNR) - Last week, executives of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) wrote to the U.S. House of Representatives, outlining six major issues of contention that pro-life Americans have with the Senate version of the health care reform bill.

Dr. David N. O’Steen, executive director and Douglas Johnson, legislative director, wrote, “NRLC believes that enactment of the abortion-related provisions of the Senate-passed health care bill would ultimately result in substantial expansions of abortion, driven by federal administrative decrees and federal subsidies.”

In particular, they cited the following reasons to oppose the Senate health care bill:

1. The federal government must not operate a program that funds elective abortions…The Senate-passed bill would create a new program under which the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would administer two or more multi-state insurance plans. The bill provides that “at least one” such plan would be subject to limitations on abortion coverage, implying that other federally administered plans could cover elective abortions, or perhaps even be required to do so by the federal administrator…

2. Federal funds must not pay the premiums of private health plans that cover elective abortion…The Senate bill would result in a situation in which private plans that cover elective abortion would qualify for the federal subsidy, but every enrollee in such a plan would find himself or herself subject to a requirement that he or she make a separate monthly payment into a fund used exclusively for elective abortions – an “abortion surcharge,” if you will. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius recently insisted that this separate-payment requirement would apply to every person who participates in the exchange…

3. The final bill must contain restrictions on abortion funding that are bill-wide and that are permanent – not rigged to depend on annual reenactment of certain language on an appropriations bill…[M]any of the “restrictions” in the Senate bill, in addition to their other deficiencies, are narrow, and also temporary – they are tied to whatever abortion policy is enacted each year on the Health and Human Services appropriations bill, to cover Medicaid…We urge that you reject any proposal that would tie to the annual appropriations process the abortion policies that will govern the programs for which the health bill itself enacts authorizations or makes direct appropriations.

4. Since the legislation will permanently reauthorize Indian health programs, it should contain a permanent ban on Indian health programs providing elective abortions.

5. The final bill must contain airtight “anti-abortion mandate” language. By this, we mean language to prevent any agency or official given authority under the bill from issuing administrative mandates that would require any private health plans to cover abortions. The Senate bill contains a bewildering array of provisions that grant authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other federal entities to issue binding regulations on various matters… Some of these provisions could be employed in the future as authority for pro-abortion mandates, requiring health plans to cover abortion and/or provide expanded access to abortion, unless there is clear language to prevent it. For example, under the Mikulski Amendment, adopted by the Senate Dec. 3, the Department of Health and Human Services could force every private health plan to cover elective abortions merely by placing abortion on a list of “preventive” services…

6. The final bill must have strong pro-life “conscience” language.

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