Obamacare’s mounting problems

It’s not really news anymore that signup for healthcare as promised and touted by the president has hit another glitch. But that it did on deadline day generated at least some headlines.

Like Politico’s. The bottom line is more the story than the body of the story.

Public opinion polls have shown many Americans are still opposed to the law. A new Washington Post-ABC poll released Monday showed approval rising slightly, with 49 in favor and 48 opposed, but many other surveys have found more skepticism.

So, fair assessment is that we’re about evenly split over Obamacare. Allegedly.

The issues I have with it relate to life, true healthcare coverage and accessibility, and conscience rights, as regular readers here know. Those have been highlighted in the HHS mandate lawsuits over the past two years.

Here’s another detailed rundown of what’s wrong with the Affordable Care Act, which few people have actually read.

Once the Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010, the two chambers of Congress have held diametrically opposed views. The House, under Republican control since 2011, has voted many times to repeal the entire act; the Democratic-controlled Senate has resisted changes.

The Catholic bishops’ conference has not joined in either agenda. Supporters of national efforts to achieve universal health coverage for almost a century, the bishops have urged specific reforms in accord with the moral principles they articulated during consideration of the A.C.A. The bishops support basic, life-affirming health coverage for everyone, including immigrants; compliance with longstanding federal policies on abortion funding; and respect for rights of conscience.

The A.C.A. remains deficient in these areas. The bishops have urged Congress to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, including reform of the way our health laws treat immigrant families. On abortion issues—both federal funding and conscience rights—the implementation of the A.C.A. over four years has brought its defects into sharper focus.

One barrier to progress on the act’s problems regarding abortion is that many, including some Catholics, are confused about those problems or deny that they exist. Here, then, are the abortion-related problems the bishops’ conference finds in the A.C.A.

Click on that link.  Read the article. Rich Doerflinger counts the ways.

1) Under existing federal jurisprudence, federal funds appropriated by the A.C.A. are available for elective abortions.

He doesn’t just make the claim, he backs it up. Do read on, especially about the protections put in place and upheld for decades under the Hyde Amendment. It’s very instructive.

2) The act violates the policy of all other federal health programs by using federal funds for health plans covering elective abortions.

Here’s just a snip from that section:

The A.C.A. forbids insurers to inform consumers about their abortion coverage except as part of the long list of benefits provided to those already enrolling. It also forbids them to reveal how much of the enrollee’s premium will go into the separate account for abortions. Thus a common impression that enrollees will write a “separate check” for abortion, which pro-life dissenters might try refusing to sign, is apparently false—the funds are separated at the insurer’s end. Some states have said that every health plan on their exchange will cover elective abortions.

This is troubling in light of polling commissioned by the bishops’ conference during consideration of the A.C.A. Most survey respondents opposed measures that require Americans to support abortion with their tax dollars or their premiums; 68 percent said that if the choice were theirs they would not want abortion in their health coverage. On each question, women gave stronger pro-life responses than men. The majority of American women who oppose abortion coverage will now often face a sad dilemma: Either pay for abortions anyway or have greatly reduced options when looking for a health plan to meet their families’ needs.

Next:

3) The A.C.A. lacks important conscience protections.

Most of this is contained within the HHS mandate, a ‘birth control delivery scheme’ objected to by a great number of Americans for many reasons, most enumerated in those lawsuits linked above. But note this, which isn’t well known (along with most everything else in Doerflinger’s article):

More broadly, the final version of the A.C.A. deleted an important conscience provision from the original House-passed bill, which incorporated the Hyde/Weldon Amendment that has been part of Labor/H.H.S. appropriations bills since 2004. That law withholds Labor/H.H.S. funds from a federal agency or program or a state or local government that discriminates against health care entities that refuse to provide, refer for, pay for or provide coverage of abortion. Like the Hyde Amendment on funding, the Hyde/Weldon policy on conscience does not govern funds appropriated by the A.C.A.

And then:

4) Finally, it has been said that federal judges in Virginia and Ohio have ruled there is no abortion funding in the A.C.A. That is not quite true.

He explains. And then, the bottom line:

The great majority of American men and women do not want to support abortion with their taxes or health premiums. A recent poll of obstetrician-gynecologists showed that only 14 percent perform abortions, and the latest abortion statistics show abortion rates and the number of abortion providers at their lowest since 1973. To all but the most committed enthusiasts for abortion, that tipping point cannot arrive too soon.

What did we learn from the Komen-PP fiasco?

It has been deeply revealing and we have learned much.

First of all, that the relationship existed. After all the years of doubt or uncertainty by many contributors to the Pink Ribbon campaign over whether the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure donated some of those funds to Planned Parenthood, it’s all out there now. So there will never be another Pink October or any other fundraising campaign in which ubiquitous pink ribbons  and the Komen logo of the breast cancer awareness giant will not be associated with Planned Parenthood, the abortion giant.

Second, we saw the full weight of Planned Parenthood’s power and fury. On a hair trigger, they and their supporters fired off relentless rounds of volleys through a vast social media network. And they either pressured or cajoled nearly two dozen US senators to leap into the fire and lobby on their behalf, all on practically no notice.

Senators Frank Lautenberg, Patty Murray and 20 other Democrats have prepared a letter, obtained by Reuters, saying Komen’s move “threatens to reduce access to necessary, life-savings services. We urge Komen to reconsider its decision.”

They certainly didn’t take the time to research the veracity of their claim about access and services, and anything else pertaining to the truth of the matter.

“It would be tragic if any woman, let alone thousands of women, lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack,” said the letter, which was due to be sent later on Thursday.

It all worked, and fast, which is a big lesson for the pro-life movement. Whatever else Planned Parenthood is, it is highly successful in everything it does nationally, at the local level and highest levels of government obviously up to the White House itself. And it is highly successful as a force to be reckoned with because it is relentless in applying pressure and mobilizing rapid response forces that frame a message, make it go viral and then make it stick. They make it clear that there will be consequences to non-compliance with their demands, and they follow through.

This, with another tenor but no less tenacity, is a model for the pro-life or any movement to notice and consider. Leave aside PP’s bullying for another post…

Social activism can change policies and laws when people unite behind a cause with a fervent commitment, make a clear statement meant to ‘stick’, mobilize a network through social media, make a sustained effort to make the message go viral, and refuse to go away or back down. And make it clear there will be consequences to the response or lack of one.

The movement should be unapologetically forceful, but unassailably positive and relentlessly determined. And it helps when it’s an election year.

Surprise, surprise

Bart Stupak caved, after all. 

His press conference was brief and sounded like it was hastily put together.

Stupak just addressed the media saying, “I am pleased to announce that we have an agreement. With the help of the President and Speaker we have been able to come with an agreement to protect the sanctity of life in Health Care Reform….that there will be no public funding for abortion in this legislation.  We’ve all have stood on principle.”

Stupak went on to say, “Today the President has announced that he will be signing an executive order.  That executive order will be signed after the health care legislation as it refers back to the health care legislation to reinforce that principle and that belief that we all stood on, no public funding for abortion.”

When I heard that in the live press conference, I thought ‘will be signed’? And what does the rest of that sentence really mean?

Stupak seems to be either incredibly trusting of the President, or completely unaware that the President Obama can reverse any executive order he writes.   Executive Orders can also be reversed by legislative action.

As for trusting the president, we do have some notable examples of him reneging on promises. Like the September 9th one to the joint session of Congress (and the nation) that his health care bill will not allow federal funding for abortion (though the Senate version he’s been pushing does). And the one last July to Pope Benedict that he would do whatever he could to reduce abortions, though he’d already reversed the Mexico City Policy that freed up funding for abortions overseas, among other things.

As for trusting the legislative branch of government not to reverse this order at some point, that takes a great leap of faith. But Washington is all about surprises these days.