Family Research Council

October 09, 2013 - Wednesday

Telling Secrets on Abortion Coverage

As Congress debates ObamaCare, one issue that almost stopped the law in 2009 -- yet still receives scant media coverage -- is the law's subsidies for abortion coverage. ObamaCare is funded through mandatory spending so as to avoid the Hyde Amendment, the provision which stops appropriated funds for the Department of Health and Human Services from paying for abortion or even subsidizing plans with abortion coverage. The President promised when the health care bill passed that it would not cover abortion, but like FRC warned during the debate over ObamaCare, buried deep within the 2,700 pages is language Nancy Pelosi was hoping Americans would never read, the abortion surcharge scheme. That's right! If an insurer decides to cover abortion in its plan, and the government subsidizes people's premiums in that plan, every single person is required to pay an extra abortion surcharge!

Adding insult to injury, the same section also requires that all information about the abortion coverage and surcharge only be given at the time enrollees receive their overall benefits package. The law states: "coverage of the services described in paragraph (1)(B)(i) [elective abortion] shall provide a notice to enrollees, only as part of the summary of benefits and coverage explanation, at the time of enrollment, of such coverage." And the same secrecy clause applies to the abortion surcharge. If a person wonders why they are paying for their premiums as well as a separate small fee, the insurer may only provide information about the entire cost of the plan -- not how much they are paying for abortion. To put a spotlight on this abortion secrecy clause, Members held a bipartisan press conference today announcing new legislation titled the "Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2013." Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) and pro-life Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) introduced this bill to ensure transparency. The Smith/Pitts/Lipinski bill at least will let Americans know whether they are paying for elective abortion or not under ObamaCare.

The Cost of Raising the Roof

Only days away from maxing out the government's credit card, President Obama is desperately trying to disarm the Republicans of one of their strongest instruments in curbing federal spending, the debt ceiling. Yesterday, President Obama claimed in a national news conference, "Because it's called raising the debt ceiling, I think a lot of Americans think it's raising our debt. It is not raising our debt. This does not add a dime to our debt."

This caused some of the nation's leading economic minds, as well as people with basic math skills, to scratch their heads. New York Times economics correspondent Binyamin Applebaum listened to the President's comments and Tweeted: "Of course raising the debt ceiling increases our debt. Which is necessary to pay our obligations. But of course it increases our debt."

In one odd and technical sense, the President is correct: Raising the debt ceiling (the limit on the amount of money the federal government can borrow by issuing more Treasury securities) does not itself increase the debt. It means the federal government can increase the debt. To my knowledge, there has never been a time in our history when the debt (or borrowing) limit has been raised when Uncle Sam hasn't used its new borrowing authority to the last cent (or dime, as Mr. Obama would have it).

Back on the battle over funding the government, House Republicans have passed no less than 11 bills to try to find reasonable compromise, including funding for the National Institutes of Health and food programs intended for vulnerable women and children. But President Obama will not budge; as explained by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, "The President not only has refused to negotiate on issues of debt and spending but also has mocked the very idea of engaging with Congress." House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) says, "The President is giving Congress the silent treatment. He's refusing to talk, even though the federal government is about to hit the debt ceiling. That's a shame -- because this doesn't have to be another crisis. It could be a breakthrough. We have an opportunity here to pay down the national debt and jump-start the economy, if we start talking, and talking specifics, now." And, he adds, in order to "break the deadlock, both sides should agree to common-sense reforms of the country's entitlement programs and tax code."

It is time for Mr. Obama to stop acting like a dictator and start acting like a president by working with a co-equal branch of government.

Congratulations to One of Our Own

Yesterday, we were pleased to learn that the Kansas state senate president has appointed FRC's Senior Fellow Dr. David Prentice to the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center Advisory Board. State law requires the appointment of "one person with a nationally respected reputation representing the scientific research community." Dr. Prentice certainly fulfills these criteria. He was a leading proponent for the creation of the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, which was established this spring through the passage of Kansas SB 199 and was signed into law by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Dr. Prentice has testified many times before the Kansas legislature about the benefits of ethical adult stem cell treatments, based on the published scientific record.

The recently-established center is unique as a comprehensive stem cell center. This center will focus first on treating patients with adult stem cells as opposed to embryonic stem cells which require destroying a human life. In addition to avoiding ethical problems, adult stem cells have a proven track record as life savers and life extenders, treating over 60,000 people a year for dozens of diseases around the globe. The center also will train doctors on the use of adult stem cells for treatments; conduct research and clinical trials to develop more patient therapies; educate people about stem cell treatments; and create a global database of available therapies for use by physicians and patients. We congratulate leaders in Kansas on this new center and applaud Dr. Prentice's appointment and look forward to seeing what he will be able to accomplish in this position in addition to his responsibilities as our senior fellow. Congratulations David!

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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