Friday, September 18, 2009

Mad Max is all alone when it comes to his health care bill and making no friends in the pro life crowd.

Baucus health care bill would fund abortions, pro-life groups say
Washington D.C., Sep 18, 2009 / 03:26 am (CNA).-

Some pro-life groups have reacted critically to the new health care legislation proposed by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), warning that it would subsidize and sometimes mandate abortion coverage, especially if Hyde Amendment funding restrictions are not maintained.

They also warned the proposal could force the “rationing” of health care.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, charged that that Sen. Baucus’ “America’s Healthy Future Act” includes abortion “pure and simple.”

He compared the legislation to the Capps Amendment, saying it would subsidize health plans that cover elective abortions with tax credits. (Catholics already subsidize health plans that cover abortion--every time they pay their monthly premium into a private plan that covers abortion)

“The accounting used in the bill is a matter of smoke and mirrors, since elective abortion is authorized for health plans receiving government subsidies.”

Perkins also charged that the Baucus bill mandates at least one health plan in each region of the country covers elective abortions. In Perkins’ view, this contradicted President Obama’s claim that he would prevent federal funding of abortion.

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) said the Baucus proposal contains “an array of pro-abortion mandates and federal subsidies for elective abortion.” Provisions of the bill would give “massive” federal subsidies to both private insurance plans and government-chartered cooperatives that pay for elective abortions.

“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,” NRLC's legislative director Douglas Johnson said.

The NRLC also charged that the bills were inconsistent with President Obama’s claim that no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions. It reported that the Baucus bill provides $6 billion in federal funds to establish health insurance cooperatives, without any limitation on the use of funds to pay for abortions or to subsidize plans that pay for elective abortions.

The national pro-life group also warned that the Baucus bill would allow the federal government to declare abortion a “mandated benefit.” NRLC claimed that without renewal of the Hyde Amendment, which expires every September 30, many private insurance plans could be forced to include abortion on demand as a mandatory benefit in the minimum benefits package.
(The above paragraph is all speculation and none of this appears to be in Baucus's bill.)

NRLC further cautioned about health care “rationing,” saying the Baucus bill contains a medical provision that in 2015 would instate severe financial penalties upon physicians who are in the top 10 percent of medical resource use. (One would think the wording can be worked out. This provision is designed to weed out physicians who fraudulently abuse any insurance coverage to line their own pockets and the pockets of the hospitals and clinics where they work.)

“This provision does not link funding to outcomes or quality; instead, it will force a ‘race to the bottom’ with relentless pressure on doctors to limit health care for their older patients,” the group said. “On top of the significant Medicare cuts in the bill, this will gravely endanger the lives of America’s senior citizens.” (Why don't we just keep scaring our seniors. When does this kind of thing become emotional abuse?)

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president of American United for Life, also criticized the $6 billion in funding for the establishment of health care cooperatives which would be allowed to cover abortion. She likewise warned of mandated abortion coverage if the Hyde Amendment. (This is CNA's own editing mistake.)

“Real health care respects life and the pro-life community will never support any bill that does not explicitly say that abortion funding and coverage is not allowed,” Yoest said.

Mary Harned, staff counsel at Americans United For Life, said that there is still a long road ahead since, even if language expressly excluding abortion funding and coverage is added to the Baucus bill, it will need to be reconciled with the bill from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and with the bill produced by the U.S. House of Representatives.


Personally I think Mad Max's bill is a corporate sponsored sell out to the health insurance industry, but I do appreciate the fact it is bringing up other facts about the health insurance industry and abortion. I have stated all a long that the only health insurance reform which will do what the pro life lobby wants is a single payer federal system under the Hyde amendment.
If people want coverage for elective procedures they can buy private policies.

Millions of pro life Catholics already subsidize the abortion coverage in their current private or employee sponsored plans. I have been breathlessly waiting for some bishop or pro life group to point out the equal moral danger to Catholic souls in this state of affairs.

The little peep one hears is that this subsidizing is not sinful because it's of a distant non material type of subsidizing over which people have no choice. For some reason this reasoning can't be extended to the Federal Government. Seems it's OK if a for profit corporation makes money off of people subsidizing abortion but it's not OK for the non profit Federal government in any way shape or form. If there's profit involved does that make it moral?

The other alternative to a single payer federal system is to legislatively prohibit any insurance company from covering elective abortion that opts to take federal subsidies. I don't know how this would actually be worked out. Not all abortion is considered medically elective-- at least in the sense the Church teaches it. Taken to it's extreme, which is of course where the absolutists want to go, this kind of ban could include most forms of artificial birth control and all morning after pills. This would be the kind of government legislation that actually does smack of fascism.

Scaring seniors with rationing is getting old and abusive. These kinds of rationing decisions are made all the time in the current system. Why isn't any one on the right concerned about that. Is this another case where if it's done in the service of profit it's moral?

As far as the doctors in the top 10% of medical resource use, all one needs to do is google heart by pass and insurance fraud. Seems cutting people open and exposing them to death for heart by pass surgery they don't need, and in cases don't actually get, is a favorite past time for medical doctors lining their pockets. This kills people, lots of people. It needs to be targeted and the quickest way has been looking at those making the most money off of medicaid/medicare.

Pro life activists will undoubtedly raise objections to every potential bill because they can. The problem they are going to run into is that the current system already does exactly what they've objected to in every reform proposal which has been introduced. Some of these pro life groups are going to have to get consistent or it's going to look like their underlying motivation is profit.


  1. Colleen, I love the inscription at the top of your blog. Is it new? It may have been there for some time now, but if so, I'm just now noticing it. Wonderful quotation--which gives me a tiny bit of hope on a very down day.

  2. I 'stole' it from a post on Wild Reed about a month ago. Definitely worth stealing.

  3. Coleen - thought you might like this article:


    Kevin McManus

  4. I agree on your assessment of the Baucus plan. My thought is that the GOPers would use abortion politics to prevent any effort at a public option, and I am not surprised to see this. The anti-reformists and opponents of a publicly funded program want to prevent reform and will use abortion politics to prevent any effort at reform. Some of the more zealous have made their views quite clear. The American Life League had very tacky posters at the Washington tea party rally stating the public option should be buried with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.