By Tony Perkins
Originally published in Tony Perkins’ Washington Update on March 7, 2017
Tony Perkins is the President of the Family Research Council (FRC)
Yesterday, Speaker Ryan and the House Republicans, with the support of President Trump, released the American Health Care Act—a single bill which would repeal key provisions of Obamacare and replace it with more conservative solutions.
We are grateful to House leadership for including the same key pro-life provisions that we supported in last year’s Obamacare repeal bill that, if not for former President Obama’s veto, would have blocked the lion’s share of taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood for one year and dismantled large parts of Obamacare’s abortion insurance subsidies. After repealing Obamacare with a two-year delay, the American Health Care Act will replace Obamacare’s taxes and subsidies with a new refundable tax credit to individuals and families to purchase health insurance, which is adjusted for age. The bill also uses savings from repealing Obamacare’s big government spending programs to provide money to states. The funds can be used for high risk individuals with pre-existing conditions or other health care needs, based on decisions made by states, not the federal government. The American Health Care Act contains important provisions which prevent these health care credits and state block grants from paying for plans that cover abortion on demand. However, there is still a pro-life concern in the bill because it could allow funds from the refundable credits to pay for abortions in health savings accounts. We discussed this with congressional leaders who agree with the importance of making sure this bill has rock solid pro-life protections.
Abortion is not health care. The government should not fund or incentivize abortion on-demand as health care—no matter which political party is in charge. If the House pro-life language is fixed and passes, there are additional hurdles in the Senate due to strict budget rules. The Senate “Byrd Rule” governs budget bills to only allow a 51-vote threshold. Any provision that doesn’t comply with the budget rules is subject to a 60-vote threshold. In the past, efforts to add restrictions on abortion funding to a reconciliation bill that reformed Medicaid were struck down under the strict rules. If the abortion funding restrictions for health care credits and state funds in this new bill fail in the Senate, then these provisions will subsidize abortion. In that case, the pro-life community could not support the overall bill and should oppose it.
Harkening back to Nancy Pelosi, Republicans must not repeat the Democrats’ mistakes by passing the bill only to find out it funds abortion on-demand after pro-life provisions are struck in the Senate. That said, we are encouraged that House Republicans have taken the first step to apply pro-life principles to the GOP health care replace package and must ensure all the abortion loopholes are fixed. Addressing the pro-life concerns on the replace package in the Senate is also necessary. If these provisions don’t pass, then passing the original Obamacare repeal bill is still a necessary goal.