Some pro-life groups have reacted critically to the new health care legislation proposed by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), warning that it would subsidize and sometimes mandate abortion coverage, especially if Hyde Amendment funding restrictions are not maintained.
They also warned the proposal could force the “rationing” of health care.
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, charged that that Sen. Baucus’ “America’s Healthy Future Act” includes abortion “pure and simple.”
He compared the legislation to the Capps Amendment, saying it would subsidize health plans that cover elective abortions with tax credits.
“The accounting used in the bill is a matter of smoke and mirrors, since elective abortion is authorized for health plans receiving government subsidies.”
Perkins also charged that the Baucus bill mandates at least one health plan in each region of the country covers elective abortions. In Perkins’ view, this contradicted President Obama’s claim that he would prevent federal funding of abortion.
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) said the Baucus proposal contains “an array of pro-abortion mandates and federal subsidies for elective abortion.” Provisions of the bill would give “massive” federal subsidies to both private insurance plans and government-chartered cooperatives that pay for elective abortions.
“This would be a drastic break from longstanding federal policy, under which federal funds do not pay for elective abortions or subsidize health plans that cover elective abortions,” NRLC's legislative director Douglas Johnson said.
The NRLC also charged that the bills were inconsistent with President Obama’s claim that no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions. It reported that the Baucus bill provides $6 billion in federal funds to establish health insurance cooperatives, without any limitation on the use of funds to pay for abortions or to subsidize plans that pay for elective abortions.
The national pro-life group also warned that the Baucus bill would allow the federal government to declare abortion a “mandated benefit.” NRLC claimed that without renewal of the Hyde Amendment, which expires every September 30, many private insurance plans could be forced to include abortion on demand as a mandatory benefit in the minimum benefits package.
NRLC further cautioned about health care “rationing,” saying the Baucus bill contains a medical provision that in 2015 would instate severe financial penalties upon physicians who are in the top 10 percent of medical resource use.
“This provision does not link funding to outcomes or quality; instead, it will force a ‘race to the bottom’ with relentless pressure on doctors to limit health care for their older patients,” the group said. “On top of the significant Medicare cuts in the bill, this will gravely endanger the lives of America’s senior citizens.”
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president of American United for Life, also criticized the $6 billion in funding for the establishment of health care cooperatives which would be allowed to cover abortion. She likewise warned of mandated abortion coverage if the Hyde Amendment.
“Real health care respects life and the pro-life community will never support any bill that does not explicitly say that abortion funding and coverage is not allowed,” Yoest said.
Mary Harned, staff counsel at Americans United For Life, said that there is still a long road ahead since, even if language expressly excluding abortion funding and coverage is added to the Baucus bill, it will need to be reconciled with the bill from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and with the bill produced by the U.S. House of Representatives.