The Democrat’s reform plans would have a powerful ally—the Roman Catholic Church and its huge network of hospitals—were it not for the perception that plans as currently drafted would permit taxpayer funding of abortions. Without the Stupak Amendment, legislation probably would not have passed the House. A similar battle on amendments is likely to occur in the Senate.
Some within the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church appear to be in favor of socialized medicine, and certainly have no objection to taking money from taxpayers.
Some media organizations reported that Catholic bishops, or even the Vatican itself, engineered the “compromise” that deleted abortion funding so that the bill could pass the House.
The Stupak Amendment has an effect virtually identical to that of the Hyde Amendment, which is added yearly to the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) appropriations bills. Before Stupak, the Hyde Amendment would not have applied to H.R. 3962.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has “assumed full ownership of a 2,074 page bill…that would institute the most far-reaching changes to the system in generations.” He is a veteran of the Senate Appropriations Committee, “where writing bills is done one favor at a time,” writes Shailagh Murray (Washington Post 12/4/09).
Among the moderates who have “hijacked” a “potentially historic health-care overhaul” is Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Nelson is expected to offer an amendment prohibiting abortion coverage in the public plan, and also prohibit people who receive tax subsidies for private plans from buying policies that include abortion coverage.
Reid’s game plan is to allow Nelson’s amendment to come to a vote, where it would presumably fail, and then begin negotiations on a “compromise” (ibid.). Once the bill is passed, it goes to conference committee, and there is no guarantee that amendments will survive the final process.
The Mikulski Amendment, which passed 61-39, was supposedly about correcting a problem with coverage of mammograms. It would, however, bind every health plan in the nation to cover, without cost sharing, anything that the Secretary of HHS defines as a “preventative service.” The National Abortion Federation considers “comprehensive primary preventive health care” to include “abortion care.”
The key point is that the plan as a whole places unprecedented power in the hands of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Twila Brase notes that the word “secretary” occurs 2,489 times in the House bill H.R. 3962, and 2,500 times in the Senate bill.
Through coverage decisions, the Secretary could take much of the liberal social agenda out of the hands of a politically accountable legislature, and simply enact it.
Abortion is not the only service that the Secretary might define as “essential.” Dr. Louis Keeler of New Jersey notes that the legislation gives the government “wholesale entry into the death and dying process.”
Other services that might be deemed “essential,” for the goal of “nondiscrimination” or “eliminating disparities,” could be sex-change operations or in-vitro fertilization for lesbians, at taxpayer expense.
Beyond the provision of medical services, legislation could be a way to monitor and control behavior. AAPS generral counsel Andrew Schlafly notes that “injury control” could be a back-door way to achieve gun control (Sec. 5301, p. 1342).
The bill’s “wellness program” would use national databases to offer lower insurance costs to those with a “health lifestyle.” This might mean eschewing gun ownership, getting all “recommended” vaccines, attending prescribed “sex education” sessions, or receiving implanted contraceptives until or unless certified for “healthy” childbearing. Anything that is not unambiguously proscribed by law might be at some point implemented by the Secretary.
The extensive reporting requirements—and penalties for failure to report or inaccurate reporting—could enable the government to identify owners of firearms or dissenters from politically correct recommendations. Brase notes 878 occurrences of “report/reports/reporting” in the House bill, and 789 times in the Senate bill.
- Entry 53, concerning powers of the Secretary
- Entry 73, concerning a council on prevention
- Entry 114, on prevention and reporting
- Entry 123, concerning Sec. 5301 on “injury control”