Problems with Health Care Reform
By Mary Harned
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) allows federal tax dollars to directly subsidize insurance plans that cover abortions. This contravenes existing law.  The most well-known examples of the prohibition on the use of federal tax dollars to subsidize insurance plans that cover abortions are the Hyde Amendment which applies to programs funded through the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) appropriations bill and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).

The PPACA only prohibits the use of certain funds to directly pay for abortions, leaving open the possibility (which has been demonstrated by recent events) that other authorized funds will be used to pay for abortions. Furthermore, this paltry limitation in the bill is tied to the existence of the Hyde Amendment which is subject to elimination every year.  So, if the Hyde amendment is ever removed from LHHS appropriations, the limited prohibition on federal funding for abortion in the PPACA will disappear as well.  Pro-abortion lawmakers are committed to getting rid of the Hyde Amendment.

The PPACA also creates new broad mandate authorities for federal agencies and officials that could allow them to require private insurance companies to provide abortion coverage. For example, if an administrative agency determines that abortions and abortifacients like ella are “preventive care,” the agency will require all insurance companies to cover them.  If that happens, all Americans will be forced to pay for abortions through their insurance premiums, even in violation of their conscience.

The PPACA prohibits discrimination by insurance plans participating in the new government exchanges against a health care provider or health care facility unwilling to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions; however, it does not proscribe discrimination by government entities.  This falls short of the protection encompassed in the Hyde-Weldon Amendment, added annually to LHHS appropriations bill.

In February 2009, the Stimulus Bill enacted by Congress included $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research (CER) to “determine which drugs, devices, and procedures are most effective and carry the lowest risk.” The health care reform law establishes the “Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute” (the Institute) to evaluate the risks and benefits of two or more medical treatments, services or items.  The Institute presents serious concerns that the federal government could misuse results of CER to deny or ration essential care to the sick, disabled and elderly.

President Obama’s appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick as director of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare during the July 2010 recess has added to the concerns.  In 2008, Dr. Berwick admitted that he is “in love” with the socialized British system of rationed health care. In an interview in 2009, he stated, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care—the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

Medicare and Medicaid together already insure nearly one-third of all Americans. The new healthcare law calls for major changes in their programs, including the expansion of Medicaid to cover 6 million more people. Dr. Berwick’s appointment raises concern that he will direct these changes in a way that does not adequately respect all human life.

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