The Edmond Sun

Opinion

October 18, 2013

Conscience gets lost in Obamacare maze

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Obamacare was billed as an affordable, easy system of obtaining health insurance, where Americans could simply pick health plans that best fit their family’s needs. But the resulting health care law, characterized by rising costs and onerous government mandates, is looking more and more like a maze that’s maddeningly difficult to traverse.

So complex is the system that few consumers may realize the law breaks a longstanding truce in the culture wars: That federal funds shouldn’t flow to abortion coverage.

For decades, Americans have agreed that — whatever one personally thinks about the controversial procedure — Congress shouldn’t entangle tax dollars in providing abortions. Policies prohibiting federal funding for elective abortion or abortion coverage have been enacted almost every year since the mid-1970s.

Polls show a majority of Americans consistently agrees with such policies. Yet, when a divided Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it failed to apply those longstanding prohibitions to the massive law, popularly known as Obamacare.

The Obamacare insurance exchanges that entwine tax dollars and private dollars in covering abortion rest on the law’s foundation of inescapable mandates. Under Obamacare, the government mandates what benefits insurance companies must offer, employers must provide and individuals must purchase.

Taxpayers now will foot the bill for federal subsidies for the purchase of health plans on the exchanges that went live online Oct. 1, and some of those plans could cover elective abortion.

This flood of new funding could significantly increase the number of abortions covered by taxpayer-subsidized plans. According to analysis by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, more than 18,000 additional abortion procedures could be paid for each year.

That’s not all. One of the darker corners of the Obamacare maze is a hidden mandate that could force some Americans to pay directly for coverage of elective abortions.

Individuals enrolled in one of the federally subsidized exchange plans that cover abortion will be forced to pay a surcharge of at least $12 per year — and possibly much more — out of their own pockets.

Worse, many individuals and families who otherwise would object to paying for abortion coverage may not even be aware of the additional charge. Obamacare regulations only allow insurers to disclose the existence and amount of the abortion surcharge at the time of enrollment. That warning may be as little as a single sentence in a voluminous document.

And who is charged with helping Americans through the complex world of Obamacare insurance exchanges? Answer: Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

The government is giving more than $600,000 to three Planned Parenthood affiliates to act as “navigators.” Along with other groups, they’re tasked with helping Americans sign up for insurance on the federally facilitated exchanges.

Many states are following suit. The District of Columbia, California and Vermont announced grants totaling more than $1 million to local Planned Parenthood affiliates for promoting insurance exchanges for those jurisdictions.

Families and individuals seeking to avoid plans that cover abortion will find little comfort in the guidance of an organization that performs more than 330,000 abortions a year — while reporting net assets topping $1 billion.

But we really shouldn’t be surprised at this bewildering system, where hidden premiums and restricted consumer choice are further muddled at the direction of special interest groups. Obamacare’s capacity to confuse stems from the law’s power to control.

Americans, told that their consciences are of no consequence, are left with few tools to scale the high walls of confusing regulations built by unelected bureaucrats in search of health care that meets their family’s needs and aligns with their values.

Congress should bulldoze this labyrinth and move forward with real health care reform. Americans deserve a health care system that increases access, decreases costs and allows individuals and families to choose health care without subsidizing life-ending procedures.

SARAH TORRE is a policy analyst in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation. Readers may write to the author in care of The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue N.E., Washington, D.C., 20002; Web site: www.heritage.org. Information about Heritage’s funding may be found at h http://www.heritage.org/about/reports.cfm.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results