Critics condemned the Obama administration's approval of a federally funded $160 million high-risk insurance coverage initiative in Pennsylvania that was created as a part of the recent health care overhaul. The federal fund is being accused of allowing abortions to be paid for if they are deemed necessary by a physician.
National Right to Life issued a statement on Tuesday evening explaining that the $160 million plan is part of a $5 billion federal funding program set up under the Affordable Health Care Act that was signed into law in March.
Pennsylvania's high-risk pool program, submitted for approval by state Gov. Edward Randell, is one of the numerous provisions created under the recent legislation.
According to a press release by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, “the state will receive $160 million to set up the program, which will provide coverage to as many as 5,600 people between now and 2014.”
“The plan's benefit package will include preventive care, physician services, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, mental health services, prescription medications and much more, with subsidized premiums of $283 a month,” read the statement.
Pro-life analysts have condemned the plan, however, stressing that the high-risk insurance fund will cover abortions.
“The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we've discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).
“This is just the first proof of the phoniness of President Obama's assurances that federal funds would not subsidize abortion – but it will not be the last,” Johnson charged.
NRLC reported that on May 11, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to congressional leaders addressing the high-risk pool program, saying that “states may choose whether and how they participate in the program, which is funded entirely by the federal government.”
Although the language of the Pennsylvania insurance plan states that the funding does not cover “elective abortions,” NRLC argued that nowhere in the document is the term “elective” defined.
Rather, abortions will be covered if they are prescribed under the necessary “requirements” of several statutes. According to NRLC, abortion is legal in Pennsylvania if a single physician believes that it is “necessary” based on “all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age) relevant to the well-being of the woman.”
NRLC said the language bars abortion only if it is motivated by gender discrimination.
“Under the Rendell-Sebelius plan, federal funds will subsidize coverage of abortion performed for any reason, except sex selection,” Johnson charged. “The Pennsylvania proposal conspicuously lacks language that would prevent funding of abortions performed as a method of birth control or for any other reason, except sex selection – and the Obama Administration has now approved this.”
Family Research Council senior vice president Tom McClusky also decried the $160 million plan on Tuesday.
“Never have we so regretted being right on an issue, but this $160 million for an abortion insurance program in Pennsylvania validates the arguments FRC Action made throughout the health care debate: Taxpayer dollars will fund abortions.”
“For our efforts to remove the bill's abortion funding, we were called 'deceivers' by President Obama and 'liars' by his allies,” he added. “Now we know who the true deceivers and liars really are.”
Commenting on the executive order that President Obama signed following the passage of the health care law which purports to ban federal funding of abortions, McClusky said this latest move proves the “worthlessness” of that action.
“While the American people deserve an apology from President Obama for his deception, we should only be satisfied when this Pennsylvania abortion funding is rescinded and the health care law repealed.”
CNA contacted the Pennsylvania Insurance Department's spokeswoman Rosanne Placey, who was not immediately able to give a reaction.