Executive Order Banning Obamacare Subsidies for Abortions Ignored

On Tuesday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, commissioned by House Republican leaders, which found that insurance plans are not adhering to regulations aimed at preventing the use of Federal healthcare subsidies in covering abortion procedures.

In order to gain the support needed to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, President Obama promised to issue an Executive Order reinforcing his promise that, under the ACA, Federal funds could not be used to cover abortions, except in the cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life was in danger. Executive Order 13535 was signed on March 24, 2010, and affirmed, “The Act specifically prohibits the use of tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments to pay for abortion services…in the health insurance exchanges that will be operational in 2014.”

In addition to the President’s Executive Order, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska wrote specific language in the ACA legislation requiring insurance providers with plans covering abortion, that participate in the state exchanges, to collect “separate payments” for the abortion coverage. Additionally, insurers must provide “segregation plans” to their state health insurance commissioner to explain how the abortion funding will be kept separate from taxpayer subsidies. The GAO report found that insurance providers have not collected the required “separate payments,” nor even itemized and separately billed abortion premiums, and even found that a state insurance department did not know about the “segregation plan” requirement. In a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicate Services, John Dicken, the GAO’s healthcare director, noted “It is unclear how state departments of insurance are to ensure that issuers are complying with segregation requirements,” which has made it impossible to say how much taxpayer money has been used to fund abortions.

In response to the report, Ben Wakana, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said, “CMS will work with stakeholders, including states and issuers, so they fully understand and comply with the federal law prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions.” However, some lawmakers are riled up over the report. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California released a statement on Tuesday, saying, “When jamming the law through Congress, the Administration and Washington Democrats insisted that Obamacare would not fund abortions. The harsh and sad reality that today’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) report confirmed is that there is little the Administration is doing to live up to that promise…Today’s report should be another clarion call—we must repeal this broken law and replace it with a step-by-step, patient-centered alternative that ensures that taxpayer dollars are not used to pay for abortions.”

White House: Executive Order 13535

Politico: GAO: Obamacare Abortion Rules Widely Ignored

National Review: GAO Says Abortion Coverage ‘Inconsistent with Federal Requirements’ in Obamacare Exchanges

MajorityLeader.gov: Obamacare’s Broken Promise on Life

U.S. GAO: Health Insurance Exchanges: Coverage of Non-excepted Abortion Services by Qualified Health Plans

U.S. GAO: Letter to the Honorable Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

U.S. Celebrates Constitution Day

On this day, September 17, 1787, delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the Constitution of the United States of America. This document created the government we still use today, and ten years ago Congress decided to celebrate its legacy by designating September 17 as “Constitution Day.”

In honor of Constitution Day, Speaker of the House John Boehner said on Wednesday, “Today is a good time to remind ourselves of the words of the constitution and to reflect on the Founding Fathers’ vision for America. As Benjamin Franklin stated in the preamble, we should focus on making sure this Constitution is well administered to preserve our democracy, our freedoms, and our country.”

Constitution Day was established in 2004 through legislation introduced by the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. It ordered Federal offices to provide “educational and training materials concerning the United States Constitution to each employee of the agency or department on September 17 of each year.” Additionally, schools and other educational institutions must hold a program dedicated to teaching about the Constitution on September 17.

Here is a video, via Roll Call, of Senator Byrd proposing the Constitution Day holiday.

Speaker.gov: Constitution Day

Roll Call: Constitution Day: A Byrd Legacy

And for our latest post: Perry’s Veto Case: A New–and Potentially Dangerous–Form of Judicial Review?