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Debunking John Boehner's "Monthly Abortion Premium" Claim (By Reading the Bill)

November 5, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Drudge Report is leading off today with an outrageous and false claim about the House health care bill from House Minority Leader John Boehner [R, OH-8]. “A monthly abortion premium will be charged of all enrollees in the government-run plan,” Boehner writes. It’s right there on line 16, page 96, section 213, under ‘Insurance Rating Rules.’  The premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account – and these federal funds will be used to pay for the abortion services."

But Boehner is either lying or completely misunderstanding what that section of the bill is all about. In fact, the section of the bill he is claiming would require a “monthly abortion premium” is actually part of a safeguard in the bill to ensure that no federal money is used for funding abortions.

The section, which you can read for yourself here, directs the Health Choices Commissioner to determine, on an actuarial basis, the per month cost of insurance coverage for elective abortions. The reason the government needs this information is because the bill requires federally-funded affordability credits to be segregated from individually-paid premiums for any insurance plan that covers elective abortions and is paid for in part by affordability credits. The government needs to know how much the abortion coverage portion of the plan costs so they can ensure that that that potion of the plan is fully paid for by private individuals, not by the government.

Read the section of the bill on segregating these funds here; you’ll see that it references the section directing the Commissioner to estimate the cost of abortion coverage. There is absolutely nothing in the section or anywhere else in the bill that says anything abortion premiums.

Boehner also makes another false claim in his article. “On line 17, p. 110, section 222, under ‘Abortions for which Public Funding is Allowed,’ the Health and Human Services Secretary is given the authority to determine when abortion is allowed under the government-run plan,” he writes.

This, also, is not true in any way. Read the actual text of that section:

(B) ABORTIONS FOR WHICH PUBLIC FUNDING IS ALLOWED- The services described in this subparagraph are abortions for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services is permitted, based on the law as in effect as of the date that is 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.

Under current law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services does not have any authority to determine what abortions can be paid for with federal funds. That authority belongs to Congress. Since 1976, Congress has passed a law every year (the Hyde Amendment) that bans federal funds from being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. This is the law being referenced in the section of the health care bill Boehner refers to in his article. It is fully upheld by the House health care bill. Congress would have to end the Hyde Amendment in order for any decisions regarding federal funds for abortions to be given to the HHS Secretary, as Boehner falsely claims.

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