The Anti-Choice Movement Is Throwing A Wrench In Obamacare Fixes

As the House gives final approval to a tax bill that would eliminate a key part of the Affordable Care Act, anti-choice groups are uniting to stop fixes meant to help stabilize health insurance markets, saying that it they lead to taxpayer dollars subsidizing insurance plans that cover elective abortions.

Last night, the Senate passed a massive tax cut that also repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated will leave 13 million more people uninsured. In order to secure the vote of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to hold votes on a handful of policies meant to lessen the damage the move will do to insurance markets, although experts dispute how much of an impact those measures would actually have. On top of House Republicans apparently not being on board with the deal with Collins, two of the measures she wants are now facing coordinated opposition from the anti-choice movement.

The Hill explains the two bills in question:

The first is a bill sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that would reimburse insurers for giving discounted deductibles and copays to low-income patients. The second bill would give states billions of dollars to help insurers with the costs of covering high-risk, expensive patients.

Yesterday, a coalition of anti-choice groups sent a letter to members of Congress, saying that they would oppose the two measures, Alexander-Murray and Collins-Nelson, because they would fund mechanisms for helping low-income and high-risk people get health insurance plans that could possibly cover elective abortions.

“Any Member voting for the Alexander-Murray proposal, or other Obamacare stabilization legislation not covered by the Hyde amendment, would not only be voting to sustain what many have called the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade, but would also be voting to directly appropriate taxpayer dollars for insurance that includes elective abortion,” read the letter, which was signed by leaders of the Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, National Right to Life, March for Life, Americans United for Life, and others.

(The claim that Obamacare was “the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade” is bizarre, given that abortion rates have been steadily declining since the 1980s.)

Anti-choice groups have been rallying their troops to oppose these stabilization measures. The Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser wrote in an email to her group’s supporters this morning that she objected not only to the possibility that the measures could subsidize plans that offer insurance coverage for abortion, but that they would “prolong Obamacare” at all. This summer, SBA List was one of few groups to publicly go to bat for a “skinny repeal” bill that would have repealed the individual mandate, along with other provisions.

In an email last night, FRC’s Tony Perkins framed the stabilization measures as payouts for abortion: “One bill, sponsored by Senators Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Murray (D-Wash.), would spend more than $21 billion to prop up Obamacare’s abortion coverage by funding the cost-sharing reduction payments that President Donald Trump rightfully ended this year. A second bill, sponsored by Senators Collins (R-Maine) and Nelson (D-Fla.), would spend $4.5 billion to subsidize elective abortion in health insurance plans through ‘reinsurance’ for high-cost patients.” Other anti-choice groups have also been circulating calls to their members to contact their members of Congress about the measures.

UPDATE: The Senate is putting off the two bills to January in order to avert a government shutdown.