Illinois Dem: Americans Being Misled by Lack of Transparency on Obamacare Abortion Coverage
A House Democrat from Illinois stood by fellow members of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus on the Hill Wednesday to declare that Americans are being misled on funding of abortion in Obamacare.
Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) was one of the backers of the Stupak amendment, crafted to overcome the last congressional obstacle in the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Former Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), who introduced the amendment, accepted a deal from President Obama after the amendment passed the House but got held up in the Senate. Obama promised an executive order banning federal funding for abortion under the bill if conservative Democrats would lift their opposition.
Lipinski was the only Illinois Democrat to vote against Obamacare.
"When we were debating the healthcare bill three and a half years ago here, I had stood up and helped to demand, and we got in the House originally, the Stupak Amendment. The language we have on abortion clearly is very different from what the Stupak Amendment said. And today we see that not only do we have the funding of abortion, but we really want to focus on, especially today, is the lack of transparency," he said at a press conference.
"One of the biggest issues I remember in the whole healthcare debate was Americans deserve to have a clear, transparent understanding of what insurance companies are providing for them in their healthcare plans. That was one of the biggest priorities all along in talking about healthcare reform, health insurance reform. But we wound up with Obamacare."
Lipinski was joined by Pitts as well as Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Diane Black (R-Tenn.).
"Today we see we do not have that transparency when it comes to abortion," the Illinois Dem said. "So on top of everything else, on top of all the issues that those of us up here have about the funding of abortion in ObamaCare, I think everyone should agree that this bill, this law, was intended to bring transparency. When it comes to abortion, it is not transparent."
"No one can make the argument that we have this transparency. Do people even know that they are buying a policy that covers abortion?"
Lipinski said it's "very important that we get this straightened out starting with the transparency issue."
With more than 60 members signing on, the caucus introduced the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act. The bill requires information regarding either inclusion or exclusion of abortion coverage, as well as the existence of an abortion surcharge, prominently displayed in all marketing or advertising materials, comparison tools, or summary of benefits and coverage explanations.
"This is a right-to-know bill. Americans have a right to know upfront and with full transparency when they are purchasing a plan that subsidizes the killing of unborn children. I would respectfully submit that even the most ardent advocate of abortion should embrace full disclosure," Smith said.
Smith, who leads the caucus with Lipinski, said he tried to find such explanations on the plans offered on the D.C. exchange and in his home state of New Jersey -- when he wasn't getting knocked off the system.
"A representative of the health insurance marketplace live chat said you may have to wait until you pick a plan to see if they cover abortions. And again, you may discover in weeks, months, after you've already done it," he added.
"To rid ObamaCare of its massive expansion of abortion-on-demand's facilitation and funding, I would not parenthetically, I, along with 136 bipartisan co-sponsors, including everybody here today, have also introduced a No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, or H.R. 7. That is pending, and that is something we are very serious about moving. But this legislation has to be done now."
Lipinski said "this should be something that everybody can embrace."
"Because as I've said, this was one of the top priorities in this whole issue of healthcare reforms, begin with transparency," he added. "We do not have transparency now. And this needs to be fixed. This bill would do that, but I'm hopeful that it's not going to take legislation. I'm hopeful that the administration will stand up right now and make this change, and require that transparency."
Pitts said the executive order granted by Obama in return for dropping the Stupak amendment "is only an accounting gimmick."
"Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, federal law was clear that federal funds do not subsidize insurance coverage that include abortion. However, Obamacare rolls back decades of abortion policy, and instead, pays for policies with elective abortions, in violation of the Smith and the Hyde Amendments," Pitts continued.
"If Obamacare's all about choice, then why is the administration making it so difficult for people to find out about whether a plan pays for abortion? It's time that we got some truth in advertising. And we need to adopt this Smith legislation."
Smith said they have spent the past several months trying to get answers from the administration on how the executive order would be implemented and asked the top 10 insurance companies how they would interpret it, and "got absolutely non-answers back."
He called Obamacare "the largest expansion of publicly-funded abortion in the history of this country."
"October 1st has now come around. And every time we get a look at a plan, either there's no mention, and that is very disconcerting, because we don't know if it's in or not," Smith said. "And it is a possibility that members of Congress and staff who will now be on the exchanges will be paying for abortions in the D.C. shop, as they call it."