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  • Obamacare: Day Six In The Senate Finance Committee

    The Senate Finance Committee continued its mark-up of the America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009 on Wednesday, September 30, 2009.

    President Barack Obama made a couple of very high-profile promises concerning key issues that have emerged during the August recess and in contentious congressional town hall meetings. In his September 9, 2009 address to Congress and the nation in a special session of Congress, the President said that Americans could be assured that in his version of health care reform, there would be no federal funding of abortion nor the use of taxpayer funds to cover illegal immigrants.

    In the key policy decisions of the Senate Finance Committee, those promises counted for little.

    Protection of the Rights of Conscience (Hatch Amendment C13)

    As noted, President Obama told Congress and the nation that, “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place”. In that spirit, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) presented two amendments to remove any uncertainty and reinforce the President’s very public commitment. Sen. Hatch’s first amendment would have protected federal conscience laws; it would have prohibited discrimination against medical professionals who did not want to practice or participate in abortion and protect the right of conscience of physicians and other health care professionals, as well as officials of health care facilities, organizations, and insurance plans. Countering Senate Democrats who declared the amendment unnecessary, Sen. Hatch said the bill’s language was ambiguous, and he sought to erase all doubt in the Committee’s intentions regarding the issue. The Committee voted against Sen. Hatch’s amendment 10-13. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voted with Senate Democrats against the amendment, while Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) voted with Hatch and Senate Republicans for the amendment.

    Federal Funding for Abortion (c-14)

    Sen. Hatch’s second amendment would have prohibited federal funds from being used for elective abortions or to subsidize insurance plans that cover abortions. Hatch provided that nothing would stop insurers from offering supplemental policies for abortion—but plans funded or subsidized by the federal government could not provide abortion. Sen. Hatch’s amendment also provided exceptions to this law in the cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother. Hatch’s rationale was to codify official promises made on both sides of the aisle that taxpayer dollars would not fund abortions. Though the Hyde Amendment already provides for such a restriction on the use of taxpayers’ money, it must be passed every year. Sen. Hatch’s amendment would have also written the President’s promise into law. The Hatch amendment failed in the Senate Finance Committee 10-13. Senators Snowe and Conrad also crossed party lines again in their votes.

    Using Taxpayers Dollars to Cover Illegal Immigrants (Grassley Amendment C8 )

    In his address on health care, President Obama also stated that, “…there are those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms…I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.” This statement ignited South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson’s controversial outburst.

    To secure the President’s commitment, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced an amendment that would require proof of citizenship in order to access federal health programs. Sen. Grassley’s amendment would have required proper identification in applying for Medicaid benefits: Medicaid applicants, or the guardian of an applicant under the age of 18, would present government-issued identification at the time of application for Medicaid or CHIP benefits. Sen. Grassley’s amendment failed by a vote of 10-13. It was a party line vote, with Senate Democrats voting against the Grassley amendment.

    Increased Consumer Costs. (Enzi Amendment C4, Grassley Amendment F1, and Hatch Amendment F17)

    The President has said repeatedly that he would oppose middle class tax increases, and that, as a result of health reform, the typical American family would see a $2500 annual reduction in their health premium costs. Nonetheless, the Senate Finance Committee “mark” contains various taxes, which would be tantamount to middle class tax increases. These include taxes on insurance companies based on their market shares, taxes on drug manufacturers, taxes on medical device manufacturers, and taxes on clinical laboratories. Economists know, of course, that such additional taxes are passed on to consumers through higher insurance premiums and higher costs for drugs and medical devices. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) proposed amendments to protect Americans against these proposed tax increases.

    Sen. Enzi’s amendment would have required that- before implementing the bill’s new insurance rating rules, each state’s State Insurance Commissioner would have to certify that insurance premiums would not rise for a majority of residents. This amendment failed by a vote of 10-13 along a party line.

    Sen. Grassley’s offered an amendment to strike the bill’s additional fees on health insurance plans. Title VI of the Chairman’s mark imposes a fee of $60 billion on insurance providers, which would be apportioned among all health insurance providers based on their market shares. The Grassley amendment was also defeated on a party line vote.

    Finally, Sen. Hatch offered up an amendment that would have required the Government Accountability Office to certify that consumers would not pay the higher taxes imposed on health insurers, manufacturers of drugs and medical devices, and clinical laboratories. During the debate , Chairman Baucus expressed the novel belief that such annual fees would be borne by companies, and that they would not be passed onto the consumers. In that spirit, Sen. Hatch’s amendment would have codified the Chairman’s good intentions. The Committee nonetheless voted, along party lines, against the Hatch Amendment by a 10 to 13 vote.

    The Senate Finance Committee, once again, has given ordinary Americans another insight into the gap between official Washington’s promises and the reality of the health care legislation being developed in Congress. Based on the President’s clearly stated intentions, on such matters as illegal immigration and taxpayer funding of abortion, it is obvious that the White House Office of Congressional Relations needs to do a better job communicating them to the Senate.

    Kathryn Nix, Heritage Intern, provided the research for this blog.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Obamacare: Day Six In The Senate Finance Committee

    1. Mike, MN says:

      It's clear Congress doesn't want to listen to Obama either.

      Maybe they think they won't be called liars anymore because of what happened to Joe Wilson…

    2. Elena Kelleher says:

      Once again, I am angered by the Democrats willingness to penalize large Companies and middle class taxpayers, while not protecting us from ambiguities in these "reforms" that leave us open to interpretation by judges, States, etc. They are really not for the people. How do we get the names of those Senators who are on this committee so that the public knows exactly who is accountable for these?

    3. Hal Williams says:

      Everyone repeat after me – corporations don't pay taxes…PEOPLE pay taxes.

    4. Bobbie Jay says:

      Although Obama repeats the same words, bla bla bla bla bla, his intent remains, as only the words of the bill have changed. He refuses to secure the concerns of Americans as he refuses to address those concerns through definite wording of rules. He continues his non-productive escapade of the American way…destroying all he can. What sincerity? In a bill of coded messaging?

    5. Charles, The Republi says:

      Anything coming out of obama's mouth are as he has said "just words". He just doesn't care. Regardless of where he was born, there is nothing American about obama or those who seek to tax this great nation to death. All they see is power & control. It's all a sham. If "universal" health care will allow coverage for illegals, shouldn't ALL our elected officials be included? Why does Reid seek to exclude Nevada? Isn't it "universal"? If obama has a mandate from the people, why are the leftists "backdooring" socialism? As I've said before "get a broom, time to clean House".

    6. Bill San Antonio TX says:

      How I hate the term "no federal dollars".

      Does that mean no dollars from taxpayers or does that mean no dollars fresh off the printing press?

      Either way, the taxpayer is going to be on the hook because it has to be paid for somehow.

      We are just sheep in the giant economic flock. Most will eventually be chosen for economic and fiscal slaughter, while a few will remain as pets and breeding stock.

    7. Warren, Killen AL says:

      Face the facts, Congress is going to do what they want and not listen to us. It is time for a aclean sweep of both houses. They need to go.

      What do you want to bet that they not only excused themselves from having to go on the health care debacle, but excused themselves from having to pay for it.

      Everyone was warned that when Boma got elected watch yoour wallets…but they did not listen.

    8. Jim, Granite (AKA Li says:

      Clearly we have some "honest politicians" here. If they have nothing to hide, then why not adopt the aforementioned amendments? These aren't trivial issues, and I for one don't appreciate the trivial manner in which they are being treated.

      They seem to have adopted an illusion that these votes have somehow escaped the attention of the American voter. Hopefully we won't "forget" during next years elections.

      Senator Baucus, Reckefeller, Conrad, Bingaman, Kerry, Lincoln, Wyden, Schumer, Stabenow, Cantwell, Nelson, Menendez, Carper, and lest we forget the puppet, Ms. Snow – we know who you are. Tread carefully, and not on us.

      We will be watching, and you will be held accountable.

    9. Robert Price Springf says:

      Note HC Bill Analysiis With CADC Advisory Board Member,MAT STAVER of The LIBERTY Council,and Dean Of LIBERTY Univeersity School of LAW PG 58 GOV Will Have Real-Time Access To INDIVIDUALS FINNANCES And A NATIONAL ID HEALTH CARE CARD Will Be Issued. PG 59 Line21-24 GOV Will Have DIRECT ACCESS TO YOUR BANKS ACCOUNTS For ELECTRONIC FUNS TRANSFER.This Bill Also Have ACORN IN IT, Paid BY our GOV.

    10. Pingback: Morning Bell: Obamacare Forces You to Fund Abortions | Conservative Principles Now

    11. Pingback: Obamacare Forces You to Fund Abortions | Fix Health Care Policy

    12. Pingback: Obamacare Forces You to Fund Abortions « Prayer, News & Action

    13. Pingback: AGAPE Movement

    14. Pingback: Obama’s broken promises on Health Care Reform. | Politics Today

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