McCaskill Statements on Abortion Coverage Not Accurate

In this video you can see Sen. Claire McCaskill get asked about abortion in Hillsboro MO yesterday and assure the audience that there is nothing in the Senate proposed heath care bill that would allow federal tax dollars to be spent on abortions (begins @ 4:30 – 6:25):

The following statement can be attributed to Pam Fichter, President of Missouri Right to Life:

claireAt Sen. McCaskill’s August 11 town hall meeting in Hillsboro and in subsequent radio interviews, she made several inaccurate statements on abortion coverage in the proposed Kennedy health care bill which passed out of committee in the Senate.

While, as she said, the word “abortion” doesn’t appear in the Kennedy bill, the term “essential benefit” in the Kennedy bill will be interpreted by the courts to mandate abortion coverage as illustrated by past administrative and legal interpretation. For example, the federal Medicaid statute was interpreted to require abortion coverage even though the law did not mention abortion. [Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan v. Engler, 73 F.3d 634, 636 (6th Cir. 1996)]. This funding was subsequently prohibited by the Hyde Amendment. Once abortion is mandated as an “essential benefit,” the result will be federally mandated coverage of abortion on demand in virtually all of America’s health plans. The Kennedy bill also requires participating plans to ensure a “wide choice of providers,” which will require establishment of additional abortion-providing sites. In addition, Missouri laws that impede “access” to the “essential benefit” of abortion, such as waiting periods and parental consent, may be nullified to comply with the federal law. All efforts to explicitly exclude abortion or to prevent health care providers from being penalized for refusing to participate in providing abortions were defeated along party lines in the Senate committee.

In subsequent radio interviews, when asked about abortion coverage in the Senate bill, Sen.McCaskill erroneously stated that the Hyde Amendment would prevent any federal money from being used for abortion. According to an August 5 report by the Associated Press, while the Hyde amendment applies restrictions to Medicaid, the federal employee health plan and military programs, the Hyde amendment would not apply to the new streams of federal funding in the proposed health care plans. The AP article states that Senate staff aides “confirmed that the public plan – and private insurance offered in the exchange – would be allowed to cover abortion, without funding restrictions. ”

Senator McCaskill is either woefully uninformed or is being intentionally disingenuous in her comments. If, as she says, she will not support legislation that mandates coverage for abortion, then we urge her to vote against any health care bill that does not explicitly exclude abortion.

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