Committee voted for abortion free ‘multi-state’ plans under healthcare reform law
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office of Government Relations reacted to several positive actions taken June 20 by the House Appropriations Committee. An amendment sponsored by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) keeps the federal government from contracting for “multi-state plans” that include elective abortions under the health care reform act. The Committee also rejected an attempt to weaken the longstanding ban on use of federally appropriated funds for abortions in the District of Columbia.
In addition, the Committee approved full funds for scholarships to assist low-income District of Columbia students who want to attend private schools.
The statement by Jayd Henricks, director of USCCB Office of Government Relations, follows:
Statement of Jayd Henricks
Director, USCCB Office of Government Relations
House Appropriations Committee votes
June 21, 2012
In considering the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013, the Committee voted 28-to-20 to keep elective abortions out of all “multi-state plans” made available across the country under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
For many years the Smith amendment to this bill has kept elective abortions out of all health plans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Under the ACA, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that manages this program will have a new responsibility to contract with insurance issuers to make two or more multi-state plans available to the public through every state health care exchange. Here the OPM is instructed by Congress to act as it does in administering FEHBP, but with one important and troubling exception: All but one of the multi-state plans can include elective abortions, and even receive federal tax credit subsidies. The amendment offered by Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) corrects this glaring contradiction in the law, so the federal government will not contract for and actively promote abortion coverage contrary to longstanding federal policy.
By a vote of 26 to 21, the Committee also rejected an attempt to weaken the longstanding ban on use of federally appropriated funds for abortions in the District of Columbia.
Finally, we applaud the Committee’s appropriation of the full $60,000,000 for D.C. schools authorized under the Scholarship for Opportunities and Results Act (SOAR). The funds will be evenly divided among public schools, charter schools, and the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program assisting low-income D.C. residents who wish to attend private schools. This latter program has been very popular and has many children on the waiting list for scholarship assistance.
We urge both House and Senate to ensure that these important provisions are retained in the final appropriations act.