Within hours of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pulling the American Health Care Act the afternoon of March 24, the finger pointing began. Who was to blame depends largely on which news report you are tuning in to rather than on objective reality. However, elected officials and their staff are less concerned about who is at fault for the demise of the bill, and are more concerned with the lessons learned, and moving on to next steps.
While it is always important to learn from our mistakes, it is also necessary to persevere and continue to battle the very real threat to our health care system — and to life — that President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, creates.
While many have voiced apprehensions about the fiscal dangers looming within President Obama’s signature piece of legislation (the majority of Americans believe health care costs need to go down), I am most alarmed that every day that Obamacare is in place — life is threatened. Obamacare uses taxpayer funds to subsidize abortion providers while also directly funding abortion itself. Obamacare bypassed the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion through Medicaid, by directly allowing taxpayer funds in the form of advanceable, refundable tax credits to help some individuals purchase healthcare plans even if they include elective abortion coverage. The law also allows for taxpayer funding of abortion by subsidizing government-run health plans, called Multi-State Plans, even if they include elective abortion coverage. Even Members of Congress and their staff can obtain elective abortions using taxpayer-subsidized insurance.
More popularly known is the fact that Obamacare forces groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor to cover drugs and devices that they find morally objectionable. Even my own organization, the March for Life was forced to cover life-destructive drugs and devices despite the fact that our organization’s very founding principle and reason for being is to protect and defend life from the moment of conception. Thankfully, we sued the federal government and won the right not to cover life-destructive drugs and devices in our health insurance. All of this underscores just one reason why Obamacare repeal is necessary, but this will only be possible if done thoroughly and collaboratively.
Members should consider the three reasons why Obamacare is on a course to self-destruction and avoid repeating such mistakes:
- Obamacare was written behind closed doors. In 2009 and early 2010 Democratic members of Congress (including pro-life Democrats) were solicited for input, but the final product was written behind closed doors with no larger collaboration.
- Obamacare was strongly partisan. The passage of Obamacare directly led to the electoral defeat of more moderate Democrats. Sadly, in today’s climate, Democratic leadership, as well as former President Obama, are insisting that Democrats not help Republicans pass health care legislation, or even confirm Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch.
- Obamacare was not pro-life. The replace plan must have Hyde-like protections included in the language of the law.
The latest ACHA iteration was pro-life, thanks to the hard work of Leadership and their staff. It additionally eliminated our nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, from receiving Medicaid reimbursements and instead redirected women to community health centers, which provide more services than Planned Parenthood and outnumber the abortion giant 20 to 1. Regardless, if health care is tackled in this immediate reconciliation period, removing the millions of tax dollars going to the world’s largest abortion provider should be dealt with immediately. I support Speaker Ryan in saying that “reconciliation is the way to go.” Any other path forward has not proven fruitful — instead making undeserved martyrs out of the billion-dollar abortion-giant Planned Parenthood.
Congress must persevere. The next attempt at repealing Obamacare needs to continue that pro-life trend, while also seeking consensus on the issues that led to the defeat of first bill. To be clear, what happened last week was a failure. But with every failure comes an opportunity. True leadership will take that opportunity and run with it, not be defeated by it.
Tom McClusky is the vice president of government affairs for March for Life Education and Defense Fund.
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