Health Bill Passes With No Abortion
Special Report - November 10, 2009
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a nearly 2,000-page overhaul of the health insurance industry late Saturday night that includes explicit prohibitions against federal funding for abortions and establishes a government-run “public option.” For pro-life activists and members, the major vote came on an amendment to maintain the current federal policy against funding abortions. The Stupak-Pitts amendment, sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak (DMI), explicitly prohibits the government public option from paying for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. It also permanently prohibits any federal subsidies distributed to help cover premiums for private insurance coverage from being used to purchase plans that cover abortion. The amendment passed by a vote of 240-194. Nine members of North Carolina’s delegation voted in favor of the amendment. They were Reps. Howard Coble (R6), Bob Etheridge (D2), Virginia Foxx (R5), Walter B. Jones (R3), Larry Kissel (D8), Patrick T. McHenry (R10), Mike McIntyre (D7), Sue Myrick (R9, and Heath Shuler (D11). The amendment did not address concerns over a lack of conscience protections for health care providers, pharmacists, and pharmacies, especially as they relate to end-of-life concerns.
Supporters of H.R. 3962Affordable Health Care for Americans Act are looking to use it to increase the 83 percent of Americans who have health-insurance coverage to 96 percent. Under the plan, all Americans would be required to carry health insurance that meets minimum government criteria. Most employers would be required to provide coverage for all employees. Among the proposed regulations for the existing health insurance industry are prohibitions against companies being able to consider preexisting conditions of their customers and charging higher premiums based on medical history or gender. The bill includes an increased role for the federal government in the health insurance industry by introducing a “public option” insurance plan that would be provided and run by the federal government to compete with private insurance companies. It also establishes government subsidies to cover premium payments for individuals and families, and expands Medicaid coverage. The plan, which would be scheduled to take effect in 2013, is estimated to cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Those costs would be offset by implementing a 5.4 percent income tax surcharge on individual incomes over $500,000 and family incomes over $1 million.
Eight members of North Carolina’s 13-member delegation voted against the final version of H.R. 3962. All of North Carolina’s representatives who voted for the Stupak amendmentexcept for Etheridgevoted against the final bill. Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D1), Bob Etheridge (D2), Brad Miller (D13), David Price (D4), and Mel Watt (D12) voted in favor of the legislation. The bill passed the house 220-215. Insiders consider the House bill “dead on arrival” in the Senate. Leaders in the Senate have intimated that they do not intend to consider healthcare legislation until 2010 because of disagreement over the “public option” aspect of any legislation.
"Unfortunately, H.R. 3962 is a seriously flawed piece of legislation,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council in a press release. “The Speaker's bill still allows rationing of health care for seniors, raises health costs for families, mandates that families purchase under threat of fines and penalties, encourages counseling for assisted suicide in some states, does not offer broad conscience protections for health care workers and seeks to insert the federal government into all aspects of citizen's lives … Additionally, the legislation would place a crushing debt on both current and future generations.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.