During last week's health care summit, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called for a fresh start in the efforts to reform the nation's health care system. He criticized the bill passed by the Senate, particularly its language pertaining to abortion. Boehner said that the bill "allows for the taxpayer funding of abortion."
President Barack Obama did not directly respond to Boehner's assertion, but said that the minority leader had taken the conversation "back to the standard talking points that Democrats and Republicans have had for the last year." As the summit was winding down, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, strongly addressed Boehner's statement, saying, "There is no public funding of abortion in this bill."
Fact Check: Does the Senate bill allow for taxpayer funding of abortions?
- The Senate bill bans taxpayer subsidies from directly paying for abortions. The bill requires that individuals buying health insurance plans with federal subsidies pay for any abortion coverage out of their own pockets with a separate check. Additionally, states are allowed to choose whether they will ban abortion coverage in health insurance exchange plans, which they can do now.
- Republicans' main argument is that the Senate bill uses taxpayer dollars to help people access abortion coverage. They address this in a summary prepared by the staffs of ranking GOP members of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. In the summary, Republicans say that the Senate bill lacks restrictions like those included in the House bill's Stupak Amendment, thus allowing government money to go toward health care plans whose coverage includes abortion. They also say that since government subsidies are not segregated in the bill, "it is not possible to honestly prevent federal funds from ever being used" for abortion coverage.
Bottom Line: The legislation does not directly allow for federal subsidies to fund abortion procedures. However, Republicans are correct that the legislation would allow federal subsidies for some plans that offer abortion coverage options. But coverage for abortion procedures under those plans would have to be paid for separately by the insured. Under current law, federal money may pay for abortion costs only in cases of rape, incest or circumstances that are life-threatening to the mother. That law, known as the Hyde Amendment, was passed in 1976.
–CNN's Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report.
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