Bipartisan Amendment Preserves Federal Standard Disallowing Public Funding of Abortion

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–December 7, 2009 – Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson and a bipartisan group of senators filed an amendment to extend the more than 30-year federal standard disallowing public funding for abortion to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, the Senate health care bill.

“As written, the Senate health care bill allows taxpayer dollars, directly and indirectly, to pay for insurance plans that cover abortion. Most Nebraskans, and Americans, do not favor using public funds to cover abortion and as a result this bill shouldn’t open the door to do so,” said Senator Nelson.

“The amendment we offer today mirrors the Stupak language added to the House health care bill,” Nelson said. “For more than 30 years, taxpayers’ money hasn’t been used for abortions, a standard that has the broad support of the American people. This rule now applies to federal health programs covering veterans, federal employees, Native Americans, active duty service members and others, and should extend to those covered by any new health care bill.”

Nelson, D-Neb., proposed the amendment with Senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Robert Casey, D-Penn., Sam Brownback, R-Kan., John Thune, R-S.D., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., David Vitter, R-La., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

The amendment extends the Hyde amendment to ensure that no federal funds are used to pay for abortion in the health care reform legislation currently being considered.  The amendment would prohibit the use of the affordability tax credits to purchase a health insurance policy that covers abortion along with prohibiting federal funding for abortion under the community health insurance option.

A number of polls have shown that a majority of Americans agree with a longstanding federal ban on public funding of abortion.  In 1976, Congress approved the Hyde amendment barring public funds from covering abortion.  This federal standard extends to federal programs such as CHIP, Medicare, Medicaid, Indian Health Services, Veterans Health, military health care programs and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

The current Senate bill’s provisions providing taxpayer funding for abortion have drawn criticism from pro-life organizations.

In a November 20, 2009 letter to senators, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the Senate to change the health reform bill to keep in place the longstanding federal policy against funding elective abortions or plans that include elective abortions.

Julie Schmit-Albin, Executive Director of Nebraska Right to Life said: “The majority of Americans have historically rejected federal funding and subsidy of elective abortions.  We appreciate Senator Nelson’s willingness to address the deficiencies in abortion language in the Senate healthcare bill. The current language would fly in the face of public opinion by creating a substantial government expansion of abortion funding.”

The provisions in the Senate bill allowing public funding for abortion are one of several key concerns Senator Nelson has with the bill that must be addressed to win his support for the legislation.

The full text of the Nelson-Hatch and others amendment follows:

Purpose: To prohibit the use of Federal funds for abortions.

H. R. 3590

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees, and for other purposes.

Referred to the Committee on __________ and ordered to be printed

Ordered to lie on the table and to be printed
AMENDMENT INTENDED TO BE PROPOSED BY MR. NELSON of Nebraska (for himself, Mr. HATCH, Mr. CASEY, Mr. BROWNBACK, Mr. THUNE, Mr. ENZI, Mr. COBURN, Mr. JOHANNS, Mr. VITTER and Mr. BARRASSO) to the amendment (No. 2786) proposed by Mr. REID

Viz:

Beginning on page 116, strike line 15 and all that follows through line 15 on page 123, and insert the following:

(a) Special Rules Relating to Coverage of Abortion Services.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Subject to paragraph (2), nothing in this Act (or any amendment made by this Act) shall be construed to require any health plan to provide coverage of abortion services or to allow the Secretary or any other person or entity implementing this Act (or amendment) to require coverage of such services.

(2) COMMUNITY HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION.—The Secretary may not provide coverage of abortion services in the community health insurance option established under section 1323, except in the case where use of funds authorized or appropriated by this Act is permitted for such services under subsection (b)(1).

(3) NO DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF PROVISION OF ABORTION.—No Exchange participating health benefits plan may discriminate against any individual health care provider or health care facility because of its unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

(b) Limitation on Abortion Funding.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

(2) OPTION TO PURCHASE SEPARATE SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN.—Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as prohibiting any non-Federal entity (including an individual or a State or local government) from purchasing separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this subsection, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as—

(A) such coverage or plan is paid for entirely using only funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act; and

(B) such coverage or plan is not purchased using—

(i) individual premium payments required for a qualified health plan offered through the Exchange towards which a credit is applied under section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; or

(ii) other non-Federal funds required to receive a Federal payment, including a State’s or locality’s contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

(3) OPTION TO OFFER SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN.—Nothing in this subsection shall restrict any non-Federal health insurance issuer offering a qualified health plan from offering separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this subsection, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as—

(A) premiums for such separate supplemental coverage or plan are paid for entirely with funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act;

(B) administrative costs and all services offered through such supplemental coverage or plan are paid for using only premiums collected for such coverage or plan; and

(C) any such non-Federal health insurance issuer that offers a qualified health plan through the Exchange that includes coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this subsection also offers a qualified health plan through the Exchange that is identical in every respect except that it does not cover abortions for which funding is prohibited under this subsection.

 

Source: bennelson.senate.gov