Obamacare???s abortion fiction

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Obamacare???s passage through the House of Representatives was possible thanks to a supposed compromise among conservative Democrats who opposed taxpayer funding for abortion. The compromise included an executive order from President Barack Obama purportedly preventing such funding.

Opponents of the law decried this approach as a fig leaf that would not actually prevent taxpayer funding of abortions. According to a new GAO report, they were right to be skeptical:

There are widespread instances of Obamacare insurance plans violating the rigid rules surrounding whether customers can use federal health care subsidies on insurance policies that cover abortion procedures, according to a Government Accountability Office investigation.

The report, commissioned by House Republican leadership and obtained by POLITICO on Monday night, found that 15 insurers in a sample of 18 are selling Obamacare plans that do not segregate funds to cover abortion (except in cases of rape, incest or the mother???s life) from their Obamacare subsidies.

The Affordable Care Act requires that insurers collect separate payments from customers for abortion coverage so that taxpayer money in the form of subsidies do not cover abortions. Adoption of the complex payment scheme — which essentially requires customers to send two separate payments to their insurers — was pivotal to getting the health law through Congress. Anti-abortion Democrats brokered the arrangement shortly before the law passed, threatening to vote against it without the restrictive language.

The report???s release is likely to elicit new election-year attacks on congressional Democrats from anti-abortion groups and Republicans who warned that Obamacare would allow for taxpayer subsidized abortions.

The Associated Press has more:

The Government Accountability Office said in a report released late Monday that only 1 of 18 insurers it reviewed was separately itemizing a charge for coverage of elective abortions on enrollees??? bills.

That detail is important because the original compromise that President Barack Obama sealed with anti-abortion Democrats stipulated that no federal funds would be used to pay for elective abortions. Instead, private health plans covering the procedure would collect a separate premium, which would be segregated from federal subsidies for other medical services.

Although abortion is a legal medical procedure, longstanding federal laws prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to pay for it, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

The new GAO review did not address the fundamental question of whether federal subsidies under the health law are being used for elective abortions, but abortion opponents said the findings underscore their view that the compromise is an accounting gimmick.

Writing at National ReviewArina Grossu makes the case that additional steps are necessary to prevent the funding of abortions via Obamacare.

Of course, taxpayers in many states are already funding abortions. As I have noted in the past, while the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment, state funding has no such prohibition. Medicaid is the primary payer for 41% of births nationwide, including 60% in New York City and 70% in Louisiana. It also pays for a sizable number of abortions.

States that currently fund abortions under their Medicaid programs for virtually any health-related reason include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. By themselves, California and New York spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars every year funding these non-rape/incest/life-of-the-mother abortions ??? New York remains the abortion capital of America, per capita. There were 133,000 publicly funded abortions in just those two states in 2010, representing roughly 10% of total abortions in the country (taxpayers in those respective states paid for all of those).

The trendline for Medicaid-funded abortions has increased during the recession and will continue to increase under Obama???s Medicaid expansion. And funding has a dramatic impact–this survey of academic literature from Guttmacher notes: ???Approximately one-fourth of women who would have Medicaid-funded abortions instead give birth when this funding is unavailable.???

The myth that taxpayers do not already pay for abortions is one precipitated by those rent-seekers who want taxpayer funding for this practice, and the fiction that Obamacare would not also represent an expansion of taxpayer funding for abortions was one of the most obvious of the many convenient lies the president made to pass his signature domestic policy.