Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show last night to discuss the House Republicans’ push to pass H.R. 3, which they’re calling the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act.” But those familiar with federal law — specifically the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services from using taxpayer funds for abortions since 1976, and other laws that prohibit members of the military, Peace Corps, those utilizing Native American health services or federal prisoners from obtaining abortions using federal funds — might wonder what the fuss is about.
As Schakowsky explained, the law introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and backed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) actually goes further than all of the current restrictions and increases taxes on people with private insurance plans — if those plans cover abortion.Schakowsky said:
This says that a person whose employer provides health care but that health insurance policy covers abortions, man or woman, then that employer can’t get a tax break. If an individual who buys a policy that provides for abortion cannot get any kind of health care tax deduction if that policy were to cover abortion. So, now it goes into private money and private insurance policies and things that people do on their own. It’s much further than the Hyde amendment.
Schakowsky added, “I think what it really says is ‘Insurance companies don’t offer abortion coverage.'” She also noted that if companies provided separate abortion coverage policies — or riders — to their employees, those health insurance riders would actually count as additional income to employees and be taxes as such.
Jessica Arons at the Center For American Progress notes that the bill goes further than simply raising taxes on employers or individuals who purchase health insurance policies that cover abortion: it also prohibits federal facilities from offering abortion services, even if those services are paid for by private funds; it imposes the will of the Stupak Amendment, rejected by Congress when it passed the health care bill, and prevents private health exchanges from offering abortion coverage even when paid for by private funds; and it prohibits the District of Columbia’s decision to use District taxpayers funds to cover services through Medicaid.
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