Devil is in the details on care act

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2010

Prior to enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the State of Louisiana had an existing high risk pool in place. However, in order to implement the provisions of the PPACA, the state — along with 21 others — has opted to use the federal “default” high risk pool instead of the state high risk pool to implement the provisions of the PPACA, due to the additional cost it imposed on Louisianians.

Specifications as to how exactly the high risk pools will be run neglect to include practical common sense, any clarity for premiums and providers — or even addressing overall solvency factor of the pools, as the Congressional Budget Office recently found that the current funding level was not enough to meet demand, and could result in up to 500,000 people with pre-existing conditions being denied access. And to think — this is only the beginning of implementation of this new law and we already have solvency issues.

Also on the laundry list of problematic hurdles for the Obama Administration is the re-emergence of the abortion issue in implementation of PPACA, as last week the Department of Health and Human Services worked to dispel worries that elective abortion services will not be covered in state high risk pools set up to provide coverage for sick people who can’t get insurance. This announcement follows reports that abortion could be permitted in some states — specifically Pennsylvania and New Mexico — under proposals submitted for the pools, as pro-life groups voiced concerns that the executive order by President Obama banning federal financing of most abortions under the new health care law was being compromised by those states.

It is important to note that the PPACA did not include language to prohibit funding for abortion and abortion coverage; and no federal law prohibits abortion in high risk pools. You might remember that the executive order was a last-minute deal cut between the president and House Pro-Life Democrats to “clarify but not change” the underlying health care reform legislation.

The agreement fell short of the Stupak-Pitts language included in previous versions of health care reform legislation, and an executive order doesn’t carry the force of law — but represents the president’s directive to agencies he controls. The executive order does not cover high risk pools, but only specifies that there will be no abortion funding in community health centers and outlines an accounting gimmick to allow abortion coverage subsidies in the state exchanges to be established by 2014.

The Center for American Progress reports that “even abortion rights advocates question whether the administration has the legal authority to impose the ban, since the high risk pools were not mentioned in the abortion-restricting language in either the bill or the executive order the president issued in exchange for winning the final votes of abortion-opposing Democrats.” Even those on the other side of this issue do not believe that this executive order carries enough weight as the rule of law.

The American people made it clear that they do not want federal dollars being used to fund abortion services.

Since the Roe v. Wade decision, Congress has agreed that taxpayer funding should not promote elective abortion. Last July, I introduced H.Con.Res. 169, which urges members of Congress to eliminate taxpayer-funded abortions from any proposed health care reform package.

Furthermore, I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 5111, the Protect Life Act, which is essentially the Stupak-Pitts amendment as a standalone bill. It amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to ensure that no federal funds go toward elective abortion, prevents any federal agency from mandating abortion, and protects the consciences of healthcare workers. Rest assured that I have always — and will continue to — support legislation that seeks to protect the most precious members of our society, especially as part of any health care reform legislation.

As a father, grandfather and a member of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus, I will continue to fight for the rights of the unborn and do everything I can to prevent abortion services from being covered by high risk pools or any other type of taxpayer-funded health plans.

As always, please contact me if I can of assistance to you and your family.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander is a Republican representing Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached at his Washington, D.C., Office at 316 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515, or by phone at 202-225-8490.