Family Research Council

PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND ABORTION COVERAGE

Tom McClusky

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed his health care initiative, the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," more popularly known as "Obamacare," into law. While some saw the passage of the legislation as historic, many more saw it as disastrous. Many of the fears concerning the Act are now coming true, and the signs indicate that if Obamacare is not repealed, the effect will be detrimental to the American health care system. During the debate, Family Research Council was one of the first organizations to highlight that the legislation would lead to taxpayer funding of abortion and other life concerns.

How the New Law Threatens Life

  • The law directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to contract with and administer several health insurance plans to be made available across the country. Under the new health care law, the Director of OPM may administer plans that cover elective abortion and even mandate elective abortion in all but one of the plans he or she administers. Additionally, language in the law gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services tremendous power, including the ability to mandate that every health care plan offer abortion coverage as part of "preventive services."
  • The new health reform package rolls back decades of abortion policy, allowing for taxpayer subsidies for policies with elective abortion under a system of accounting gimmicks, and charging an "abortion surcharge" for anyone who enrolls in a federally subsidized health care plan that covers elective abortions -- regardless of if the enrollee agrees with the policy or not.
  • The new law lacks comprehensive abortion funding restrictions, instead relying on a powerless Executive Order that reiterates the very accounting gimmicks that allow for taxpayer funding of abortions. Legal precedent has shown that Executive Orders cannot trump the law.
  • Obamacare established a new program that provides $5 billion to operate high risk pools in order to provide Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIP) in each state. Whether or not these plans are administered by the state or federal government in your state, the plans will be underwritten with federal dollars, and there is concern that the plans in some states may cover elective abortion.
  • The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) brought to light the fact that the proposals submitted by Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Maryland and approved by HHS would allow coverage for abortion.
  • After the news about abortion funding in Pennsylvania's plan was exposed, HHS issued a statement stating that "abortions will not be covered in the PCIP except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered." The release also stated that HHS would issue guidelines to reiterate this policy, but they have not yet taken action to do so.
  • Neither the President's executive orders nor the new health care statute prevent states from funding abortion. Only after the abortion funding was exposed in these plans did the Administration respond, saying it would issue guidelines (which can be changed at any time) to prevent high-risk pool plans from covering abortion.

Opting Out

Under the new law, states have the express authority to exclude abortion coverage from plans offered on their state exchanges. Additionally, current state laws regarding abortion cannot be preempted. As of July, 2010, only five states have taken advantage of this provision. Even if states use the opt out, federal taxes of residents within the states will still go to subsidize other state's plans that may cover abortion, as well as the various pots of federal money, which are not protected by statutory abortion restrictions, such as the $11 billion in community Health Centers funding.

Additional Life Problems

It is expected that the high costs associated with the health care law will ultimately lead to government endorsed rationing of health care services as well as a loss of current benefits. Already, the Obama Administration has admitted that up to 87 million Americans will lose their current health care coverage because of Obamacare. Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 23 million people will still be without health coverage at all. The dramatic cuts to Medicare could cause some providers to end their participation in the program, and could jeopardize access to care for beneficiaries. CBO also found that the premiums for millions of individual American families in 2016 will be 10-13 percent higher than they otherwise would be, representing a $2,100 increase per family.

Rationing fears were increased when President Obama short-circuited normal procedure to recess appoint Donald Berwick, an advocate of government-rationed health care, to run Medicare and Medicaid.