The Capps, Ellsworth, Stupak, And Senate Finance Language On Abortion

The Capps compromise in the House was supposed to be the compromise which would have kept health care reform “neutral” on the issue of abortion.

Capps Compromise--The Capps proposal would have made sure that abortion was not part of the minimum benefit requirement package for health insurance plans. It would have guaranteed that in each area there was at least one plan that covered abortion and one plan that did not. No federal funding could be used to pay for abortion. Any abortion services covered by an insurance plan (exceeding what the Hyde language says can be covered) would need to be paid for from a special segregated fund. This fund would need to be made up of only private money. The public option could decide whether or not to offer abortion services, but if it did it must also create a special segregated fund to pay for them.

Senate Finance Language--The language dealing with abortion in the Senate Finance Committee bill is very similar to the Capps proposal. (Harry Reid is expected to include the Finance Committee's language in the merged bill.) Abortion services would need to be paid for by segregated funds. Depending on state law, every region of the exchange must have at least one plan that covers and one plan that does not cover abortion. The Senate Finance Committee bill is, of course, silent on how the public option would handle abortion because it did not contain a public option.

Ellsworth Compromise--From what I've seen reported on the Ellsworth compromise (actual legislative language was never made public) of the Capps compromise, it could best be described as Capps on steroids. It would have created clear and strict rules governing the separation of funds, and would make sure no federal funds were used to pay for abortion. There might have been some type of a board to insure that funds are indeed properly segregated. It would mandate that there was always a “pro-life” health insurance option available on the exchange, and that pro-life insurance plans could not be discriminated against in anyway. The public option could only cover abortion if it hired a private contractor to handle ever aspect of that coverage, and then only with private dollars.

Stupak Amendment--The Ellsworth compromise was still based on the principle that there are public funds and private funds and abortion coverage could only be paid from specially set aside private funds. The Stupak language refuses to accept the idea of segregated funds. Stupak claims that money is fungible. It not only prevents federal funds from being used to cover abortion, but prohibits federal funds from being used in anyway to help operate an insurance plan that does cover abortion.

It would technically allow for abortion coverage by plans or riders that are completely paid for in every way by private dollars. But if any health insurance plan or rider received even a single dollar of federal money from HR 3962 to somehow pay for any aspect of operating that health plan, it could no longer cover elective abortion. That single federal dollar would be like a drop of dye tainting a risk pool made up of potential billions of private dollars. The extremely broad language could force millions of women to lose their current abortion coverage.

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