Colorado Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn was one of 50 House members sponsoring a bill that aims to further limit tax dollars from paying for abortions under the new health care legislation. The bill looks to cut off any ancillary or administrative costs related to abortions and abortion health care plans. The bill in effect resurrects the controversial Stupak amendment but seeks to make it more fully restrictive.
Lamborn and other members of the House introduced the Protect Life Act, H.R. 5111 Thursday. In a release, Lamborn said the proposed law would prohibit insurers from selling plans covering abortion to anyone receiving federal subsidies. The Washington Post reported that the Stupak amendment would have blocked 85 percent of customers using the health care exchange from receiving such coverage.
Monica McCafferty, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rockies, disagreed with Lamborn’s assertion that tax dollars would pay for abortions. She said that in light of anti-abortion add-ons to the legislation such as the Nelson Provision and the President’s Stupak-compromise Executive Order, “this latest attempt to restrict reproductive health care is extraneous and unnecessary.”
McCafferty said that her organization is reviewing the language of new bill and will be working with the national organization to develop a response.
The Protect Life Act states that “No funds authorized or appropriated by this Act… including credits applied toward qualified health plans… or cost-sharing reductions… may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, received credits or cost-sharing reductions.”
The Act stipulates that the administrative costs of plans that include abortion could only be funded strictly through abortion-plan premiums. It’s unclear how insurance companies will structure abortion coverage administration costs under the health legislation in its present form.
Under the so-called Nelson Amendment, individuals can use federal subsidies to purchase policies that include abortion coverage but they have to write separate checks for that coverage. The idea is to separate out abortion costs from other services while still allowing Americans receiving subsidies to pool with others who want abortion plans so that the costs are spread out and kept low.
The potential accounting and bureaucratic complexities that might stem from the logic of the bill are dizzying. They’re also unprecedented. According to this line of thinking, all government employees, that is people paid through taxes, could be barred from buying into health plans, public or private, that include abortion. All government entities– schools, offices, transportation authorities, etc– could not offer health plans that include abortion nor could they buy non-abortion-including plans from any health insurance provider that also sells plans that include abortion. Could any government employee pay for any service or for any product at a hospital or clinic that, in addition to all other services and products it may provide, also offers abortions?
In his release, Lamborn writes that the bill would “amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PPACA, to prevent federal funding for abortion or abortion coverage through government exchanges, community health centers, or any other program funded or created by PPACA. Additionally, the bill would protect the right of conscience for health care professionals and ensures that private insurance companies are not forced to cover abortion.
“Among the many significant problems with the new health care overhaul, perhaps none is more personally offensive to me than the bill’s provision to allow taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. The Protect Life Act will ensure that no one’s hard-earned tax dollars will be used to take the lives of the innocent,” Lamborn said.