Friday, October 9, 2009

Health Care Reform Should Follow Missouri Model on Abortion Coverage

Today, the Missouri Catholic Conference proposed that any federal health care reform should follow Missouri law with respect to abortion coverage. Under Missouri law, a separate insurance rider is required for abortion coverage. So in effect, only people who want abortion coverage pay for abortion coverage. The premiums of other people and the subsidies of any government program would not.

Please see the Related Urgent Action Item below this release:

Health Care Reform Should Follow Missouri Model

October 9, 2009, JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The health care reform legislation currently under consideration in congress will force people to subsidize abortions through their insurance premiums, according to Missouri Catholic Conference’s (MCC) Interim Director, Mike Hoey.

The MCC is advocating that the national legislation follow the example of Missouri law. Missouri law requires a separate insurance rider for abortion coverage (Section 376.805 RSMo).

“A separate rider ensures that people pay for an abortion with their own money and my insurance premiums do not subsidize someone’s abortion,” Hoey said.

The Senate Finance Committee recently rejected an amendment by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that would have required an insurance rider for abortion coverage. Under the bill approved by the finance committee, the secretary of health and human services would determine the cost of abortion coverage, which could be as little as one dollar per month.

“This is a phony pro-life fix,” Hoey observed. “What is needed is explicit language requiring a separate insurance rider.”

The MCC is also advocating that explicit language be added to the health care reform legislation to ensure that no public monies are used to fund abortions. As proposed, the reform bill references the annual appropriation restrictions on abortion – no publicly funded abortions except in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother. These abortion restrictions are commonly referred to as the Hyde amendment after the late Congressman Henry Hyde, R-Ill.

“Congress can refuse to re-adopt Hyde next year and then all the pro-life protections disappear,” Hoey said. “Hyde needs to be made permanent law not just an annual appropriation amendment. Only in this way can Congress reassure pro-life citizens that abortion will be kept out of health care reform.”

The MCC is mobilizing Catholic citizens and parishes to contact their U.S. senators and congresspersons with a very basic message: “Keep abortion out of health care reform.”

“The bottom line is people need to tell their senators and congresspersons, “I do not want my tax dollars to fund abortions” and “I do not want my insurance premiums to subsidize someone’s abortion.””

A real easy way to contact your representatives and senators is through this portal from NCHLA. This is already set up with letters asking congress to allow pro-life floor amendments. You can add material from the letter above to the letters.

Related Urgent Action Item

MCC is asking folks to urgently contact Senator Claire McCaskill.

Dear Senator Claire McCaskill:

Soon the U.S. Senate will consider historic legislation to reform the nation's badly flawed health care system. I strongly support health care reform and appreciate your support for reform. Too many people work for businesses that don't offer health insurance or lose their health insurance when they fall ill.

But I, along with most Missourians, do not consider abortion another form of health care.

I do not want my insurance premiums to subsidize abortion.

I do not want my tax dollars to fund abortion.

There is a profound moral contradiction in expanding health care for the needy while expanding access to abortion that kills an innocent unborn life.

You have sought to reassure Missourians that health care reform will not include abortion. I take you at your word - this is what you sincerely believe. Your position is similar to President Obama's promise to a Joint Session of Congress on health care on Sept. 9 when he promised that "under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion, and federal conscience laws will remain in place."

But the Senate Finance Committee recently defeated amendments to explicitly prohibit insurance coverage for abortion. Why, if the intention is to keep abortion out of health care reform, were these amendments defeated?

There are two steps you can take to address these concerns. First, the federal legislation should follow Missouri law that requires a separate insurance rider for those wanting coverage for elective abortions. (See Section 376.805 RSMo.). This is the way to ensure that people pay for abortion with their own money and my insurance premiums do not subsidize someone's abortion.

Secondly, the federal legislation should make the Hyde abortion restrictions - no publicly funded abortions except in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother - a part of permanent law. The proposed legislation simply references the annual appropriation rider to Medicaid and similar programs, which can change annually. If Congress fails to adopt Hyde next fiscal year, health care reform suddenly becomes a vehicle for the expansion of abortion.

As someone who has President Obama's ear and who has earned the respect of your colleagues, you can play a pivotal role in ensuring passage of historic health care reform. By working to keep abortion out of health care reform, you can improve its chances for passage and keep the measure on the law books for many years to come.


_____________ (your name)