NOVEMBER 20, 2009
Although its illegal to use federal money to pay for abortions, the gargantuan healthcare bill presented this week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will levy a new “abortion premium” fee on Americans in the government-run insurance plan.
The much-ballyhooed 2,074-page bill (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) that will start being debated this weekend in the U.S. Senate includes a monthly abortion premium charged to all enrollees in the government-operated health plan. The $848 billion overhaul package is being touted by Reid as a measure that will “save lives” even though it covers a procedure that ends them.
Since most people don’t have the stomach to sort through the cumbersome bill, a Republican lawmaker had his staff do it and highlight the contentious abortion coverage Democrats included in the measure. It begins on line seven of page 118, section 1303. Under “Voluntary Choice of Coverage of Abortion Services” it states that the nation’s Health and Human Services Secretary (ardent pro-abortion advocate Kathleen Sebelius) is given the authority to determine when abortion is allowed under the government-run health plan. It also requires at least one public insurance plan offered in the exchange to cover abortion (line 13 of page 120).
A section titled “Actuarial Value of Optional Service Coverage” on page 122 (line 11, section 1303) says the abortion premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account and the federal funds will then be used to pay for abortion services. A Health Benefits Commissioner will assess the monthly premiums that will be used for abortions in the public plan and for those offered through an affordability credit to purchase coverage through the exchange.
The heated abortion issue almost derailed the House bill, which passed by a narrow margin only after an amendment was inserted banning federal funds for the procedure. Evidently Reid and his clan didn’t learn a thing from that close call. Their bill also lets private companies that get government funds offer plans that include abortion coverage.
Since 1996 the U.S. government has banned (Hyde Amendment) the use of federal dollars to pay for abortions, though some states use local resources to fund the procedure. The federal ban applies to government health programs for the disabled and elderly (Medicare) and the poor (Medicaid). A separate provision, known as the Smith Amendment, prohibits federal funding of abortion under the federal employees’ health benefits plan.
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