Letters

Letters 07-28-14

Worry About Legals

I can’t figure out what perplexes me more, the misinformation everywhere in the media or those who believe it to be true. Take the Hobby Lobby case; as a company that is primarily owned by a religious family, they felt their First Amendment rights were infringed upon by the “Affordable” Care Act...

Stop Labeling and Enjoy

I have been struggling to find a simple way of understanding for myself the concepts of conservative, liberal, and moderation as it relates to our social interactions with each other...

Proposal One & The Public Good

Are you kidding me? Another corporate giveaway with loopholes for large corporations who rule us? Hasn’t our corrupt and worthless governor done enough to raise taxes, provide corporate welfare, unjustly tax pensions, and shut down elected officials with his emergency manager racket...

The Truth About Road Workers

Apparently Mr. Kachadurian did not catch on to the fact that the MDOT Employee Memorial in Clare is a tribute to highway workers who lost their lives building our transportation systems. It was paid for by current and former MDOT employees who likely knew some of these people personally...

Idiotic and Misguided

As a seasonal resident, I always look forward to reading your paper, if only because of the idiotic letters to the editor and off the wall columns...


Home · Articles · News · Features · Bart Stupak‘s risky...
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Bart Stupak‘s risky strategy

Anne Stanton - November 16th, 2009
Stupak’s Risky strategy
Will his anti-abortion amendment save health care reform, or wreck it?
By Anne Stanton
U.S. Representative Bart Stupak is in the hot seat. Forty-one Democrats have signed a letter saying they won’t approve a final bill for affordable health care reform if it contains his abortion amendment.
Yet it was Rep. Stupak’s amendment that allowed the health reform bill to squeak through the house with a 215-210 vote on November 7. If the amendment is taken out of the final compromise bill, 64 Democrats say they won’t vote for it.
Could abortion be the issue that kills affordable health care reform?
Stupak, who represents the 1st Congressional District, including Petoskey, the Straits and the Upper Peninsula, said in an interview last week that people need to read his amendment, which he co-authored with Joe Pitts (R-PA), before they believe what’s being claimed. It makes no changes to current law, he said.
Like the historic 1976 Hyde Amendment, Stupak’s legislation would ban federal .dollars from being used to pay for abortions (except in the case of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother). Because of the Hyde Amendment, federal workers, including those in the military, women on disability, those receiving care from Indian Health Insurance, and poor women on Medicaid, are barred from receiving federal assistance or insurance coverage for abortions. Most states also ban Medicaid coverage for abortions, effectively leaving the legal option of abortion out of reach for many poor women, who can’t pay the $300 to $700 fee.

GOING TOO FAR?
Planned Parenthood says Stupak’s amendment goes even beyond the Hyde amendment because it will indirectly affect people who aren’t receiving any federal subsidies.
This is the way it works. Under the health reform plan, a family of four earning up to $88,000, certain small businesses, and the self-employed can buy their insurance policies through an “exchange.” This virtual marketplace of insurance policies is intended for people having difficulty getting insurance; the exchange provides either a private insurance policy or a public government plan for those who qualify.
Stupak’s amendment says participating insurance companies cannot include abortion coverage in their policies to anyone receiving a federal subsidy, unless the pregnancy was the result of incest or rape, or if the pregnancy endangers a woman’s life. (Exceptions do not include a fetus with severe or fatal birth defects, or if the pregnancy will severely damage a woman’s health.)
Planned Parenthood claims the policy could effectively ban abortion coverage for anyone taking part on the exchange, not just the lower middle class who receive federal subsidies. That’s because the vast majority of people in the exchange will receive a subsidy to help pay for the premiums. Insurance companies will likely take the path of least resistance and offer just one plan, said Tait Sye, spokesman for Planned Parenthood.

FEWER CHOICES
“Let’s say I’m subsidized, and you’re not. The insurance company wants as many enrollees as possible. So they’ll open it up to people with subsidies, and that requires their policy provide no abortion coverage. A second plan—with abortion coverage—would be less appealing, overall, because a much smaller fraction of people won’t have subsidies.
“The way insurance works, it would be hard to imagine that you will offer a plan for three people without subsidies, as opposed to a plan for 100 people with subsidies. What’s clear, is that those people receiving subsidies will impact those who don’t,” she said.
In terms of the amendment providing all people in the Exchange the option to buy an abortion rider with their own money. Not likely, because no one plans an unexpected pregnancy, and there will be few takers.
Planned Parenthood says that 87 percent of all health care plans cover abortion. But if 18 million people join the exchange, as expected, the insurance companies may drop abortion from policies, perhaps even outside the exchange, simply because it’s cheaper and easier to offer a standardized policy.

STUPAK’S VIEW
Stupak said in a cell phone interview with Express that Planned Parenthood’s objections are not valid. “Once the exchange goes into business, once this bill passes, every insurance policy in the U.S. will be eligible for the exchange if they meet a minimum benefit package.”
And there are currently more than 200 policies available, such as those offered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna and Aetna, he said.
“The exchange is really just a database, which will allow comparative shopping,” Stupak said. “So the fact that no insurance company will offer two versions of a plan, that’s not right.”
What does PolitiFact say about this specific point? “There’s plenty of room for debate.”
Here’s the rest of the interview with Rep. Bart Stupak:

Express: More than 18,000 Americans die every year for the sole fact they can’t afford to pay for private health care insurance, according to a study entitled “Care without coverage: Too little, too late.” If abortion is the key issue stopping health reform, will you feel you have traded off the lives of the unborn for the lives of the born?
Stupak: My amendment assured it would pass! It would never have passed, the health care bill never would have made it through the House, even with the Capps Amendment (an earlier amendment that banned federally funded abortions, but which Stupak said didn’t go far enough). Even with the Capps Amendment, it would have been soundly rejected.
Sixteen thousand people die a year because they don’t have health insurance. Is there an ethical imperative to pass health care reform? Absolutely. As elected officials we have to make those decisions. Let me reiterate. If the Stupak Amendment was not in the bill, health care would not have passed in the House. Go to PolitiFact.com. It states that Bart Stupak might have just saved health care reform. Anyone who knows what went on, knows that without right-to-life Democrats, they wouldn’t have passed health care.

Express: But now 41 representatives signed a letter saying they won’t vote on it with your amendment.
Stupak: First of all, members write these letters all the time. Secondly, let’s see what the conference committee wording is before we make these wild claims (the role of the conference committee is to devise a final bill acceptable to both the House and Senate. The Senate has not passed its version; the public option, not abortion, is the sticking point for senators).
They are talking about whether my language is in there, but we don’t even have a bill. They are talking about a bill that doesn’t exist. That’s not a very credible argument.
Everyone says they’re going to do this, going to do that. We all need to take a deep breath. What did the president say? Keep current law. We should keep current law. The Stupak language is no more than current law. No public funding for abortions, no public funding for insurance policies that cover abortions. But if you want abortion coverage, you can get it even if you get public funding for insurance. You can buy a supplemental abortion policy with your own money.

Express: Mennonites, Amish and conscientious objectors oppose war of any kind because it involves killing people, the same objections you hold toward abortion. But their tax money must still go toward war. Are your religious convictions more important than theirs?
Stupak: There’s a law—the Hyde Amendment—that federal spending should not pay for abortion. There is not a law that exempts people from paying for war. There isn’t a law like that. When I send in my taxes, and you pay your taxes, you don’t get to tell the government you don’t believe in the war. I didn’t believe in the Iraq war, but I couldn’t tell people not to pay their taxes.
Under federal benefits, until two years ago, we never paid for mental health services. We didn’t always pay for glasses. There are certain benefits that, as the employer, we are willing to pay for. It’s not discriminatory. It’s that people don’t think abortions should be covered. It’s not just Catholics, not just Republicans. There are Episcopalians, Methodists, Protestants, a wide range of people who believe that life is sacred, and federal funding shouldn’t be used to pay for abortions.

Express: Do you feel the facts of your amendment are being misrepresented?
Stupak: By some groups yes.

Express: Does that make you angry?
Stupak: No because I look at PolitiFact, I listen to NPR public radio, and they say those people are wrong. I’m happy to show anyone this amendment. All we’re doing is current law. And if you say you want abortion funding for anyone who wants it, we’re not going there. Every life has value.



The Stupak-Pitts Amendment

Questions about the Stupak-Pitts amendment? Here’s what it says:
(a) IN GENERAL - No funds authorized or appropriated by the Act (or amendment made by this Act) may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

(b) OPTION TO PURCHASE SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting any nonfederal entity (including an individual or a State or local government) from purchasing separate or supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as-
(1) Such coverage or plan is paid for entirely using funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act; and
(2) Such coverage or plan is not purchased using-
(a) individual premium payments required for an Exchange-participating health benefits pan towards which an affordability credit is applied; or
(b) other nonfederal funds required to receive a federal payment, including State’s or locality’s contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

(c) OPTION TO OFFER SUPPLEMENTAL COVERAGE OR PLAN -
Notwithstanding section 303(b), nothing in this section shall restrict any nonfederal QHBP offering entity from offering separate supplemental coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section, or a plan that includes such abortions, so long as-
(1) premiums for such separate supplemental coverage or plan are paid for entirely with funds not authorized or appropriated by this Act;
(2) administrative costs and all services offered through such supplemental coverage or plan are paid for using only premiums collected for such coverage or plan; and
(3) any nonfederal QHBP offering entity that offers an Exchange-participating health benefits plan that includes coverage for abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section also offers an Exchange-participating health benefits plan that is identical in every respect except that it does not cover abortions for which funding is prohibited under this section.

 
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