"Efforts to reform the healthcare system have added new spark to America's long-running abortion debate, " the Christian Science Monitor reports, despite lawmaker's efforts to make the overhaul bills "abortion neutral." A version of the House bill would allow publicly-operated insurance plans or subsidized insurance policies to cover abortion, so long as the actual procedures were paid for out of premiums. Anti-abortion advocates call that compromise meaningless, since the subsidies could allow the uninsured to buy new plans that allow abortion. "This bill would be the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade, " a talk-radio host said.
A $10 billion proposal may help retired autoworkers, steelworkers and schoolteachers afford coverage. Meanwhile, the largest small business association has turned against health reform plans. Bloomberg reports that health care reform legislation "includes $10 billion to pay some of the most expensive medical costs for millions of autoworkers, steelworkers, schoolteachers and other early retirees with coverage." The provision is included in both House and Senate bills and "may help offset health-care concessions made earlier this year by the United Auto Workers as part of a government rescue of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC and related cost-cutting at Ford Motor Co.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the six Senate Finance Committee negotiators aren't in agreement about subsidies for low-income people to buy insurance. "Republicans are pressing to reduce the size of tax credits for families with incomes that are below three times the poverty rate. They would also like to trim back insurance coverage mandates in hopes of lowering premiums that would have to be subsidized. â Both sides say the core of a bill has already come together that would represent dramatic changes, both for those with health insurance and the uninsured. That core bill would impose new regulations on insurance companies, preventing them from withholding coverage for applicants with pre-existing conditions or dropping coverage when a customer gets sick.
The "best shot" at health care reform is "now, " but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is "squandering every ounce of moral capital ... on ensuring that in any reform bill not one penny of federal funds is used for abortion, " Frances Kissling writes in a Salon opinion piece. The bishops are "just not working hard enough on behalf of" the public plan option, which is "the most important and desperately needed health care reform, " Kissling writes. She adds that their "strategy has put them in the extremist camp among those opposed to abortion." Several religious groups from both sides of the abortion-rights debate agreed "to support the 'status quo' and to not use health care to advance their abortion agenda, " but the Catholic bishops "are the only religious group that is holding support for health care reform hostage to a complete ban on any form of federal funds being spent on abortion coverage, " Kissling writes.
Wall Street Journal reports: "As Washington wrestles with health-care reform, states have been busy passing their own laws to allow many young adults to remain longer on a parent's health insurance. In June, New York's governor signed one of the most recent measures -- a law allowing families to keep children up to age 29 on their employer-provided insurance, even if they aren't students. The adult child must not be eligible for other coverage, and he or she must work or reside in the state. More than 20 states have similar laws. In most cases, the legislation extends coverage for young adults until their mid-20s, regardless of whether they are still in school.
A fact check of a dozen often-repeated claims by politicos and interest groups finds that the truth appears "to be taking a vacation, " CQ Politics reports. Of the 12 claims, CQ concludes that only one is true, six are misleading and five are downright false. Among the false claims are those suggesting that the government plans to ration care, create a mandate for employers to enroll workers in the public plan, and require individuals to draft living wills that could lead to euthanasia, and that existing plans would not increase the federal deficit. The sole legitimate claim: individuals would have to pay a 2.5 percent income tax if they choose to go without insurance (McCarthy and Armstrong, 8/23).