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Posted by on Mar 11, 2010 in Health, Politics, Religion, Society | 57 comments

Bart Stupak Factually Wrong on HCR Bill and Abortion

This is not news in and of itself. Stupak claims the Senate bill directly subsidizes abortions. It does not. What is worth noting now is that MSNBC’s First Read blog has done a thorough fact-check and debunked Stupak’s claims:

Last November, the House of Representatives narrowly passed its health-care bill, 220-215, only after it included an amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) barring any federal funding in the legislation from being used for abortion coverage (except in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger). A month later, Senate Democrats secured their 60th — and decisive — vote after agreeing to Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) similar (though less restrictive) changes on abortion.

And now, with the House poised to vote later this month on the already-passed Senate health-care bill, Stupak is claiming that he and 11 other House Democrats who voted for the legislation in November will vote against the Senate bill, unless it adopts the House’s abortion language.
Stupak’s rationale: The Senate bill — despite Nelson’s changes — directly subsidizes abortion.

“In the Senate bill,” Stupak told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last week, “it says you must offer insurance policies that will be paid for by the federal government that covers abortion. You must do so.”

The Michigan congressman later said this to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “The bill that they’re using as the vehicle is the Senate bill, and if you go to page 2,069 through page 2,078, you will find in there the federal government would directly subsidize abortions, plus every enrollee in the Office of Personnel Management enrolled plan, every enrollee has to pay a minimum of $1 per month towards reproductive rights, which includes abortion.”

Except when you go to page 2,069 through page 2,078, it says nothing of the kind. (Or, as Rachel Maddow put it on her show earlier this week (paraphrasing), when you go to the section of the bill that Stupak cites as proof that the Senate bill directly subsidizes abortion, you find the proof…. that Stupak is lying.)

For starters, let’s look at the pages that Stupak cited to Stephanopoulos. From pages 2,071-2,072: “If a qualified health plan provides coverage of services described in paragraph (1)(B)(i)” — i.e., abortion — “the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to [health reform’s government-funding mechanisms] for purposes of paying for such services.

As Slate’s Timothy Noah, who fact-checked Stupak last week, writes, “That seems pretty straightforward. No government funding for abortions.”

What’s more, the Senate bill explicitly ensures that Americans who receive federal subsidies under the reform plan must pay separately for abortion coverage. Here’s pages 2,074-2,075: “In the case of a plan to which sub paragraph (A) applies, the issuer of the plan shall collect from each enrollee in the plan (without regard to the enrollee’s age, sex, or family status) a separate payment” that “may not estimate such a cost at less than $1 per enrollee, per month.”

Furthermore, Ben Nelson (D-NE) even added language allowing individual states to opt out of providing abortion coverage at all — and those states that do must have separate plans that don’t include abortion coverage.

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