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I don’t know which polls you are looking at, but it appears that there was a double digit growth in support of the President’s basic approach after he spoke to the joint session of Congress. He also told the truth about what the healthcare plan–at least as it is moving through the House of Representatives–doesn’t cover. It doesn’t have the federal government funding any types of abortions not already funded by Medicaid under the so-called “Hyde amendment”.
Jay, it seems absolutely clear that an amendment by Congresswoman Lois Capps of California is a brilliantly conceived resolution of the whole matter. Unfortunately, it has been villified by many on the Right and simply misunderstood by the generally responsible group Factcheck.org.
Let’s take this piece by piece. If there is a “public option” in the final bill, the Capps language makes it clear that federal funds can only be used to provide abortions involving rape, incest or the life of the mother. It then says that the Secretary of Health and Human Services may allow for other abortions to be covered but only by privately acquired funds. Those funds might be paid by an individual or by an employer, and will be segregated from federal funds. This kind of accounting occurs routinely in government programs.
But, what about those “affordability credits” that might be used to help pay for the “public” or any available private insurance plan? The Capps amendment makes it clear that any elective abortions cannot be counted against the premium subsidies these credits represent. Those abortions must be paid for privately with an abortion-specific premium add on (what some call an “abortion surcharge”.) Only by the most bizarre stretch of the imagination could one argue that these specific payments somehow constitute “federal funding” of abortion.
The Capps amendment even includes a provision guaranteeing that at least one plan in any selection of public and/or private insurers must provide no abortion coverage. This led the Los Angeles Times to editorialize earlier this week that the bill actually provides “a degree of choice that abortion opponents may not have today.”
If I were a member of Congress (don’t worry, I’m not running), I don’t think I could vote for a healthcare bill that didn’t cover comprehensive reproductive health care. However, I do understand that people of goodwill might decide to fight that battle another day. Congresswoman Capps’ creative compromise deserves respect, not the opprobrium of the Right.