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McCaskill Statements on Abortion Coverage Not Accurate

In this video you can see Sen. Claire McCaskill get asked about abortion in Hillsboro MO yesterday and assure the audience that there is nothing in the Senate proposed heath care bill that would allow federal tax dollars to be spent on abortions (begins @ 4:30 – 6:25):

The following statement can be attributed to Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life:

claireAt Sen. McCaskill’s August 11 town hall meeting in Hillsboro and in subsequent radio interviews, she made several inaccurate statements on abortion coverage in the proposed Kennedy health care bill which passed out of committee in the Senate.

While, as she said, the word “abortion” doesn’t appear in the Kennedy bill, the term “essential benefit” in the Kennedy bill will be interpreted by the courts to mandate abortion coverage as illustrated by past administrative and legal interpretation. For example, the federal Medicaid statute was interpreted to require abortion coverage even though the law did not mention abortion. [Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan v. Engler, 73 F.3d 634, 636 (6th Cir. 1996)]. This funding was subsequently prohibited by the Hyde Amendment. Once abortion is mandated as an “essential benefit,” the result will be federally mandated coverage of abortion on demand in virtually all of America’s health plans. The Kennedy bill also requires participating plans to ensure a “wide choice of providers,” which will require establishment of additional abortion-providing sites. In addition, Missouri laws that impede “access” to the “essential benefit” of abortion, such as waiting periods and parental consent, may be nullified to comply with the federal law. All efforts to explicitly exclude abortion or to prevent health care providers from being penalized for refusing to participate in providing abortions were defeated along party lines in the Senate committee.

In subsequent radio interviews, when asked about abortion coverage in the Senate bill, Sen.McCaskill erroneously stated that the Hyde Amendment would prevent any federal money from being used for abortion. According to an August 5 report by the Associated Press, while the Hyde amendment applies restrictions to Medicaid, the federal employee health plan and military programs, the Hyde amendment would not apply to the new streams of federal funding in the proposed health care plans. The AP article states that Senate staff aides “confirmed that the public plan – and private insurance offered in the exchange – would be allowed to cover abortion, without funding restrictions. ”

Senator McCaskill is either woefully uninformed or is being intentionally disingenuous in her comments. If, as she says, she will not support legislation that mandates coverage for abortion, then we urge her to vote against any health care bill that does not explicitly exclude abortion.

For additional documentation and background information on this issue, go to http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/Index.html.
For updates on the legislative situation, check in frequently at www.nrlactioncenter.com.

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1 Comment

  1. It is important that we keep up the pressure on Congress. There has been a great deal of talk in the media — print, radio, tv — just about everywhere about the behavior and tactics being employed by various organizations. There have been comments about well behaved and polite citizenry attending meetings to voice their opinions. There have been stories of those who haven’t conducted themselves well. I suspect these stories will go on throughout the month of August and perhaps beyond. For one, I hope they do go on well beyond.

    I think both sides have taken essentially the same tactics. Labeling each other with invectives, giving their supporters a ‘playbook’, and attempting to use the media to their advantage. All of this is okay. It is okay because in America we have the right to freedom of speech, assembly and freedom of the press. These are rights that thousands have given their lives to protect. The debate on health care which consumes nearly a fifth of the national economy and involves everyone is something that we should openly debate and understand the intended and unintended consequences of before we change an entire system.

    It is important to provide better access, bend the cost curve so that health care is affordable (and not just through shifting costs by taxing) as well as sustainable, and improving the quality of the care delivered.

    We are a country that leads the world in health care innovation. We have to zealously protect that aspect. No other country in the world is positioned to take our place if we take our eye off this important work.

    But above all democracy demands that citizens get involved and voice their opinions. To follow the health care debate and other important facts about he health care system visit http://www.ilovebenefits.wordpress.com

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