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‘Abortocare’ Makes Debut in Midst of Government Shutdown

‘Abortocare’ Makes Debut in Midst of Government Shutdown

LaDawna Howard

John Burger - published on 10/07/13

You might find a pro-life plan, but you will probably still have to pay for abortion.

You may be able to sign up for a healthcare plan that excludes abortion, but that doesn’t mean necessarily that you can avoid paying for the procedure.

So says a report by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life think tank in Washington, D.C., which predicts that 5.57 million girls and women could gain coverage for abortion under the Affordable Care Act. That coverage would come from Medicaid expansion and federal premium tax credits for plans that cover elective abortions.

Based on an average 2 percent of women of childbearing age who have abortions, the Institute estimates that taxpayers could end up footing the bill for 111,500 abortions annually.

A coalition of organizations led by the Susan B. Anthony List called on House Speaker John A. Boehner on Oct. 3 to address this and other abortion-related issues in upcoming legislation.

As millions of Americans began signing up for plans under the Affordable Care Act on Oct. 1, the Lozier Institute’s report was one of several revelations about how “Obamacare” is making it more difficult for people of conscience to avoid cooperating with immoral practices.

It was also revealed that members of Congress and certain of their staffers may be getting abortion-covering health-insurance plans, thanks to a special rule set by a department in the Obama Administration.

Likewise, the issue of the HHS preventive services mandate is still far from being resolved. Permitted under the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services is requiring many business owners and employers – even religious non-profits – to provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptives. Employers claiming a religious exemption for the mandate will have to pass a strict test proving they are a bona-fide religious organization. Many Catholic institutions such as hospitals and colleges, as well as businesses owned by conscientious objectors, will not be able to pass that test. More than 200 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits challenging the mandate.

‘Costs Borne by Taxpayer’
The subject of the study by the Lozier Institute, a branch of the Susan B. Anthony List, concerns so-called multi-state plans, which are designed to be phased in over a four-year period for every state in the country.

“The MSPs were a late substitute for the idea of a public option, a fully government-run plan that would have competed with – and, many advocates hoped, eventually supplanted – privately sponsored plans,” the CLI report explained. “Instead, the MSPs will be offered by heavily regulated private sector insurers operating under contracts these insurers directly sign with [the Office of Personnel Management]. ‘Multi-state’ is another word for ‘national’ and the degree of regulation of plan content, control of medical-loss ratios, and other factors ensure that these plans will operate more like regulated utilities than truly private insurance.”

The institute pointed out that the administrative costs of the MSPs “will be borne by the taxpayer through the Office of Personnel Management.” The report said it is not yet clear what these plans will do with abortion coverage but warns that a government-run “Navigators” program that’s been set up to help people enroll in insurance plans could allow Planned Parenthood and other entities to divert funds to efforts to enroll women in multi-state plans that include elective abortion.

At present, 27 states and the District of Columbia do not exclude elective abortion coverage from their exchanges. And 17 states permit state funds to cover the costs of elective abortion in their Medicaid programs.

The letter to Speaker Boehner read in part: “Under the ACA, millions of American will be unknowingly enrolled in health care plans that include elective abortion coverage. These plans will charge enrollees a minimum of $1 per month—an ‘abortion surcharge’—that will go into an abortion slush fund. Regulations further contain a ‘secrecy clause’ to conceal the existence of the ‘abortion surcharge’ until the moment of enrollment. This surcharge is only disclosed in the fine print, without itemization in the monthly premium, and is never disclosed again.”
These concerns are also outlined in a column by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’s Richard Doerflinger.

Congressional Perks
The reality of abortion funding under the ACA was also highlighted by Congress’ struggle to keep funding the federal government beyond an Oct. 1 deadline. That effort failed, leading to the so-called “government shutdown” in which “non-essential” services are being curtailed.
Leading up to that shutdown, the U.S. House of Representatives had tried to attach several amendments to the continuing resolution that would fund government operations beyond Oct. 1. But the Senate rejected all such amendments, including the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which would address concerns about the HHS preventive services mandate.

Finally, critics charged that a special health insurance arrangement for members of Congress and some of their staff would violate the 1983 Smith Amendment. Authored by Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-NJ, the amendment prohibits federal funds to pay for abortions or “administrative expenses in connection with health plans” that provide “any benefits or coverage for abortions.”
The National Right to Life Committee charged the Obama Administration with “falsifying” what the Smith Amendment prohibits with regards to OPM’s activities. 

“OPM proposes allowing the government to purchase abortion-covering plans for Members of Congress and their staffs, which is something that no other federal employee is allowed to do,” the committee said in a statement. “OPM’s rule spells out how this transition will occur, without interrupting the contributions made by the government to the cost of such plans (approximately 75 percent of the premium cost).  If this occurs, it will violate an explicit congressional prohibition, the Smith Amendment.”

The Smith Amendment has prohibited OPM from any administrative involvement in purchasing any health plan for federal employees that covers abortion, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest, the statement explained.

“OPM does not dispute the application of the Smith Amendment to the purchase of Exchange plans by Members of Congress and certain congressional staff,” the statement went on. “Rather, OPM erroneously asserts that the Smith Amendment prohibits OPM from using appropriated funds to ‘administer’ Exchange plans by administering ‘the terms of the health benefits plans offered on an Exchange.’  This deceptive assertion ignores the plain wording of the Smith Amendment which explicitly prohibits the use of any appropriated federal funds ‘to pay for . . . the administrative expenses in connection with any health plan . . . which provides any benefits or coverage for abortions.’ It is undeniable that OPM will incur ‘administrative expenses in connection with’ the purchase of Exchange health plans that cover abortion.”

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