(CNSNews.com) – House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) rebutted claims by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that there is no federal (taxpayer) funding of abortion in the health care bill.
Speaking to reporters at his weekly press briefing on Thursday, Boehner said the Senate's version of health care reform, unlike the one that passed in the House, provides for federal funding of abortion.
Boehner pointed out that, under the Senate bill, all Americans are required to pay a separate abortion premium of at least $1 a month. This mandatory premium amounted to a tax, Boehner said, because the federal government is forcing Americans to fund abortion, something it has never done before.
“Under the Senate bill, everyone who buys a health policy at one of the so-called exchanges will pay a monthly abortion fee,” Boehner pointed out. “That goes into a fund to pay for elective abortions. Now, you can argue that this $1-per-month fee that everyone's going to be charged isn't a tax, but you try to explain that to the American people.”
The House-passed bill – via an amendment sponsored by Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) – prohibited any federal funds from being used to pay for insurance plans that cover abortion, effectively preventing women from using health insurance subsidies to pay for plans that cover elective abortions.
Speaker Pelosi, at her weekly briefing on Thursday, repeated her position that the Senate bill does not fund abortion.
“There is no federal funding of abortion,” she said. “It is abortion-neutral.”
The Senate's less-restrictive language, the subject of contention now that Pelosi is trying to convince her party to pass the Senate bill unchanged, mandates that any plans that provide for abortion also include a separate premium for abortion.
That premium must be at least $1 each month because everyone is required to pay at least that much for their health insurance, even if they receive federal subsidies.
This separate abortion premium would have to be paid by anyone whose health plan covers abortion, regardless of whether a person ever will – or can – have an abortion. Pro-abortion Democrats claim that the Senate provision keeps federal and private funds separate, a claim Republicans and pro-life Democrats vehemently dispute.
However, the federal subsidies are not provided to individual customers but to insurance companies directly, who use them to make up the difference in a person's monthly premium if that person cannot afford the cost of insurance.
Merely providing the subsidy, regardless of the amount of the abortion fee, enables a woman to afford the insurance policy that pays for abortion, thereby, critics argue, using taxpayer funds (subsidies) to pay for abortion, which would be unaffordable, and therefore unavailable, without them.
As Boehner explained in December, just before the Senate Democrats voted to pass their health care bill, “there is no prohibition on abortion coverage in federally subsidized plans participating in the Exchange. Instead, the (manager’s) amendment includes layers of accounting gimmicks that demand that plans participating in the Exchange or the new government-run plan that will be managed by the Office of Personnel Management must establish ‘allocation accounts’ when elective abortion is a covered benefit.”
These “allocation accounts” would, if passed, segregate public and private funds, permitting only private funds from being used to pay for abortions. Individuals would then be forced to pay an “abortion surcharge” out of their own pocket, regardless of whether will ever have – or be able to have – an abortion.
“In the case of a plan to which subparagraph (A) applies (one which covers abortion), the issuer of the plan shall -- (i) collect from each enrollee in the plan (without regard to the enrollee’s age, sex, or family status) a separate payment [for abortion services],” the bill states.
This would mean that federal funds, while not being used to pay for abortions directly, would still be used to subsidize the cost of having an abortion, since without the federal subsidy the health plan would be unaffordable.
The bill “continues to defy the will of the American people and contradict longstanding federal policy by providing federal subsidies to private health plans that cover elective abortions,” Boehner said.