The President promised that under health reform taxpayers would not be forced to fund abortion. Not true.
The new health care outline posted by the White House this morning appears to aggravate concerns about a new abortion funding scheme that is not covered by any limitation, including the traditional Hyde amendment governing annual appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Stupak-Pitts amendment adopted by the House of Representative last November in its version of health reform. Instead, the White House plan would invest $11 billion in an expansion of Community Health Centers, others known as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), with no limitation at all.
This $11 billion price tag is $2.5 billion higher than called for by the Senate bill approved on Christmas Eve. That legislation provided for $7 billion in fresh appropriations for operating funds and another $1.5 billion in spending for construction of FQHCs (both sums over five years). Because this money would be directly appropriated if the Senate bill is adopted and signed into law, it does not need to be included in the annual Labor-Health and Human Services spending bill. As a result, the Hyde Amendment abortion funding limit would not apply to these FQHC funds. Nor would the comprehensive Stupak-Pitts funding limit, unless the House-passed language of that amendment is specifically included in the Senate bill updated by today’s White House proposal.
The 11-page White House summary of President Obama’s proposal does not mention inclusion of the Stupak-Pitts amendment in any final bill. Given the opposition of Democratic leaders to the amendment, it is reasonable to assume that the dramatic expansion of FQHC’s, which already number 1,250, could go hand in hand with the expansion of abortion at these centers. The FQHCs are being lobbied to include abortion among their “prevention” services, and the underlying federal authorizing statute does not bar them from doing so. Therefore, the impact of this new and independent funding stream on expanding taxpayer-funded abortion could be immense.