The new health care "reform" bill drafted by Sen. Max Baucus poses the same dangers as the other health care bills now before Congress: abortion funding and rationing of care for the most vulnerable.
From NRLC's Doug Johnson:
The "America's Healthy Future Act," proposed [Sept. 16] by Senator Max Baucus (D-Mt.), contains an array of pro-abortion mandates and federal subsidies for elective abortion. National Right to Life strongly opposes the legislation in its current form. We will work in support of amendments to eliminate the abortion mandates and federal abortion subsidies.
The bill contains provisions that would send massive federal subsidies directly to both private insurance plans and government-chartered cooperatives that pay for elective abortion. This would be a drastic break from longstanding federal policy, under which federal funds do not pay for elective abortions or subsidize health plans that cover elective abortions. For example, current law prohibits any of the over 250 private health plans that participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program from paying for elective abortions, because these plans receive federal subsidies. These private plans cover over 8 million federal employees and dependents, including members of Congress.
Thus, under the Baucus bill, like the House Democratic leadership bill (H.R. 3200), federal funds would subsidize coverage of elective abortions. In addition, the Baucus bill requires that a specific charge must be included in the premiums paid by those who enroll in such subsidized plans, of at least "$1 per enrollee, per month," which amounts to a surcharge specifically for elective abortions.
These bills are not consistent with President Obama's September 9 claim that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions," or with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius's September 13 affirmation that "no public funds would go to fund abortions." Funds spent by federal agencies are, by law, federal funds. The claim that under these bills, a federal agency would use "private funds" to subsidize abortions is absurd on its face -- a political hoax.
In addition, the Baucus bill provides $6 billion in federal funds for the establishment of health insurance cooperatives, without any limitation on the use of these funds to pay for abortions or to subsidize plans that pay for elective abortions.
In addition, the Baucus bill contains language that would allow the federal government to declare abortion to be a "mandated benefit as part of a minimum benefits package" in any circumstances in which the federal Medicaid program could pay for an abortion. Currently, the federal Medicaid program pays for abortion only in three limited circumstances: to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest. But that limitation depends on language, the Hyde Amendment, that expires every September 30, and that must be renewed annually as part of the Health and Human Services appropriations bill. Under the Baucus language, if one house of Congress, and/or the President, blocked renewal of the Hyde Amendment, many private insurance plans could be forced to include abortion on demand as a mandatory benefit in the minimum benefits package. This would be another major departure from the status quo. (Currently, only 13 percent of all abortions are billed directly to private insurance, according to the Guttmacher Institute.)
Read more about abortion coverage in the legislation.
With regard to rationing, the bill contains a dangerous provision that creates a financial incentive for Medicare doctors to deny treatments to seniors. National Right to Life Executive Director David N. O'Steen, Ph.D, says, "This is the cruelest and most effective way to ensure that doctors are forced to ration care for their senior citizen patients. It takes the telltale fingerprints from the government: instead of bureaucrats directly specifying the treatment denials that will mean death and poorer health for older people, it compels individual doctors to do the dirty work. It is an outrageous way to provide coverage for the uninsured -- by taking it away from America's senior citizens."
Read more about rationing in the legislation.