The GAO report gets into the weeds of the accounting schemes that the administration has used to obfuscate this fact, but here are the topline takeaway messages from this revelation:
- President Obama misled Congress and the American people. As one of many examples of where President Obama and Democratic leaders promised the American people that ObamaCare would not fund abortions, on September 9, 2009, President Obama told the Joint Session of Congress on Health Care: “And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up -- under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”
- An independent government agency finally has proved what pro-life advocates have insisted: that Obamacare is channeling our tax dollars to abortion.
- The administration is not even bothering to enforce its own accounting gimmick to cover up taxpayer funding of abortion.
Take Action: Use this easy form to tell your legislators to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.Colleagues in Congress have provided the information below:
GAO CONFIRMS: ABORTION IN OBAMACARE
GAO Report demonstrates that Obamacare taxpayer subsidies are going to insurance coverage that includes abortion….despite claims to the contrary.
No matter where you live, your federal taxpayer dollars are subsidizing plans in other states that include abortion. If the longstanding prohibition on abortion funding, known as the Hyde amendment, had been applied to the ACA, there would be no taxpayer funding for plans that include abortion.
The GAO identified 1036 Plans that cover abortion on demand.
In California, where an estimated 1.25 million people are receiving taxpayer subsidies[i] for Obamacare plans, 86 out of 90 plans include abortion on demand.
95% to 100% plans in 8 states include abortion on demand.
EVEN THE ACCOUNTING GIMMICK IS IGNORED
GAO interviewed 18 insurance issuers. NONE had collected the abortion surcharge payment separately—even though the author of this arrangement, Senator Ben Nelson said: “…the insurance company must bill you separately, and you must pay separately from your own personal funds–perhaps a credit card transaction, your separate personal check, or automatic withdrawal from your bank account– for that abortion coverage. Now, let me say that again. You have to write two checks: one for the basic policy and one for the additional coverage for abortion....”[iii]
Background: Instead of extending the Hyde amendment, Obamacare constructed an accounting gimmick to get around the Hyde amendment. Proponents of the gimmick claimed that when a consumer selects a plan that covers abortion, the abortions would be paid for using funds collected from the plan purchaser through a separate abortion surcharge. This separate payment approach was contemporaneously acknowledged by NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights.[iv]
The GAO found that the administration reinterpreted this billing arrangement. Instead of separate payments, they told issuers they could simply itemize the abortion surcharge on the consumer’s bill. NONE of the 18 issuers interviewed itemized an abortion surcharge. (One company stated bills indicate there is a $1 fee for “coverage of services for which member subsidies may not be used.” The rest were silent regarding the surcharge.)
LACK OF TRANSPARENCY ON ABORTION COVERAGETHREE TIMES Former Secretary Sebelius was asked about abortion coverage transparency in Congressional hearings, and each time she refused to supply the answer.[v] It took a GAO investigation to get a straight answer.
The report confirms that the information about abortion coverage is not uniformly available to consumers. When consumers are shopping for a plan there is no reliable consistent way to determine whether abortion is covered. According to the GAO of the 18 issuers interviewed:
· 11 issuers indicated that consumers shopping for plans do not have access to such information, and some of the 11 indicated consumers would need to call their issuer directly to determine whether the plan includes abortion coverage
· 6 issuers indicated they made abortion coverage information available in some fashion prior to enrollment
· 1 issuer did not respond to GAO’s request for information
Consumers should not have to search multiple websites and make time consuming phone calls to get this simple information.
LESSONS FOR 2015The information in this report only applies to 2014 plans. It does not answer questions for the consumers that will shop in the 2015 Open Season.
For 2015, the administration needs to ensure that plans clearly and prominently disclose abortion coverage, and that the abortion surcharge is prominently disclosed whenever the price of a plan is advertised.
The Senate should pass and the President should sign H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”[vii] (Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ) which would stop taxpayer funding for abortion and plans that include abortion in all federal programs including the Affordable Care Act. The House passed H.R. 7 by a vote of 227-188[viii] on January 28, 2014.