SEVERAL HOUSE DEMS PLAN TO SUPPORT BILL TO INCREASE ABORTION RESTRICTIONS IN HEALTH REFORM LAW
May 5, 2010 - Medical New Today
Seven House Democrats in the bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus say they will support a bill (HR 5111) by Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Pa.) that includes language similar to an antiabortion amendment that caucus Co-Chair Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) attached to the House health reform bill (HR 3962), CQ Today reports. Pitts said he might offer the measure as a stand-alone bill or try to add it to an unrelated bill on the floor, which could prompt a divisive vote during an election year.
The abortion-related provisions in the health reform law (PL 111-148) reflect the Senate's version of the legislation (Ota/Scholtes, CQ Today, 5/3). Under the law, to ensure that no federal funds are used to pay for abortion in plans sold through the health care exchanges, customers purchasing health plans that offer abortion coverage are required to write two checks each month: one for abortion coverage and another for all other coverage. The law also requires insurance companies to keep the payments in separate accounts (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/15).
Stupak's amendment also would have prohibited any federal funding from paying for abortion but would have prohibited plans in the exchanges from offering abortion coverage except as a separate single service policy that customers could purchase with private funds. However, Stupak and several of his Democratic allies in the Pro-Life Caucus ultimately voted for the final bill after securing a deal in which President Obama agreed to issue an executive order affirming current federal restrictions on abortion funding.
Three of the Democratic lawmakers supporting Pitts' bill -- Reps. Tim Holden (Pa.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.) -- are possible successors to the caucus co-chair position after Stupak retires at the end of this term, CQ Today reports. Stupak said he will not support the bill, putting himself at odds with most of the roughly 200-member caucus, CQ Today reports. About 70 caucus members are Democrats (CQ Today, 5/3)
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