Why Abortion Restrictions Might Prevent The Senate From Repealing Obamacare
In order to repeal and replace Obamacare with the GOP’s health care plan — the American Health Care Act — Republicans need to make sure the bill falls in line with a lot of rules and regulations. While they’re scrambling do so and tie up any loose ends, it turns out that certain abortion restrictions might actually prevent the Senate from repealing Obamacare, according to Politico. If so, much of the current health care law — the Affordable Care Act — will stay in place, meaning consumers could still use tax subsidies on insurance plans that cover abortions.
“Republicans want to enact new tax subsidies to help people buy insurance on the exchanges — but they want to include prohibitions on abortion coverage,” Politico reported on Thursday. “But Republicans are increasingly worried that the anti-abortion language would be struck under Senate rules, which allow only budgetary changes.”
Here's what that means: The GOP wants to pass its health care bill by using a complex and fast-track strategy known as a budget reconciliation process. While the AHCA seems like an entirely new law, it’s not. By using this procedure, Republicans are essentially trying to pass it as a “reconciliation bill” rather than a brand new bill, which contains changes to existing law in order to “reconcile” something within the budget.
However, by doing so, Republicans may have shot themselves in the foot because, in the past, many “abortion-related provisions were often ruled out under reconciliation,” according to Politico.
Still, even if the AHCA passes in its current state, no federal money would be used to pay for abortions, which has been the case since 1976 when the Hyde Amendment blocked government funds from being used for these services, expect in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother's life is in danger. If this new bill gets derailed over the GOP's many abortion restrictions, consumers could still use subsidies on plans that cover abortion — something that is heavily dependent on the state in which they live.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, some insurance companies opt to cover abortion care in marketplace plans under Obamacare, but "states retain the option to ban abortion coverage in marketplace plans outright, and half of states have already done so."
If this is the only way to pass the AHCA, there still may be problems ahead as some anti-abortion groups have vowed to oppose the bill if the restrictions aren't included or if any funds go back to Planned Parenthood, according to Politico.
Although the idea of reconciliation is designed to be a rather speedy process, there are still many roadblocks — or perhaps even dead-ends — ahead for the AHCA and those who support it.