It seems often the case that a heated political debate causes people to suddenly focus on issues which had previously been essentially ignored. One recent example of this in Catholic circles has been the way in which the debate over the Stupak Amendment to the House health care reform bill suddenly focused scrutiny on the question of abortion coverage in health care insurance.
To recap briefly: From the beginning, one of the concerns that many pro-lifers had expressed about “government health care” was that it would result in government funding for abortion. As the various reform bills coalesced, it became clear that no “government health care” per se would be offered, but rather an exchange on which private health insurance plans which fit specific government-set criteria would be offered. Given this situation, pro-lifers (and in particular, pro-life Democrats, who clearly had the prime say here since Republicans were unlikely to support the bill either way since they saw its overall structure as detrimental to the common good) insisted that one of the stipulations for the private health insurance policies offered via the exchange (and qualified for government subsidy for lower and middle-income Americans) be that the plan not cover abortions.
Pro-choice Democrats of course hated this provision. Some progressive Catholics also seemed eager to explain why the bill would be just fine even without Stupak, doubtless in order to avoid a situation in which pro-life advocates (backed by the bishops) successfully made the case to conservative Democrats that supporting a bill without language similar to the Stupak amendment was unacceptable for Catholics and other pro-lifers. The primary argument that surfaced was, “Most private insurance policies already cover abortion, so even without Stupak’s language, the status quo does not change. More people just get health care, and that’s good, right?”
(Updates at the bottom of this article.)
Harry Reid was able to make huge concessions to the state of Nebraska and bought Senator Ben Nelson’s vote a la Mary Landrieu. The vote seems headed to the floor with all 60 votes secured to impose on American’s draconian laws that would hike insurance rates and begin the downward slope towards European style socialism.
Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.
What’s in the bill that I’m aware of? I’ve broken down the Washington Post article almost verbatim below:
I have been on the sidelines in the huge health care debate, I find so many good and bad effects in all the proposals I have seen up to now. The first thing to note is that I am swamped by health care bills- one-third of my gross income goes straight to United Health, and then add in co-pays, and some recent Mayo Clinic extra’s, and you get the idea- “Help!”. I can see how many good people with fulltime jobs and HMO health insurance coverage, are still at risk of bankruptcy if they or their kids get struck down with anything approaching serious or chronic medically.
The problem is compounded by the very real situation of how almost all of us are in some or a lot of danger when it comes to being laid-off from that full-time work- and many Catholics like myself- have wives that are home by choice to better nurture our kids. Ugh! Lose your job, lose your insurance or pay for COBRA which you can’t afford because you don’t have a job- Double Ugh!