The Religious Right and Health Care Reform IIby
Talk about hypocrisy.
Religious-right groups and Republicans have charged that taxpayers would be funding abortions if any private health insurers that cover the procedure also accept federal subsidies for premiums under proposed health care reform legislation. That would be true, they say, even if individual abortion procedures are paid for out of a separate pool of privately paid premium dollars, not public subsidies for premiums. So the U.S. House voted to bar private insurers that accept those premium subsidies from covering abortion.
Now reporters have been checking into insurance plans offered by the Republican Party and religious-right groups. What did they find? Yup. You guessed it.
The GOP is doing its darndest to quickly move on from an embarrassing revelation — that even as congressional Republicans insist that the health care overhaul does not cover abortions, the national party’s own health plan covers elective procedures.
Late Thursday night, the Republican National Committee acknowledged that its health plan, as far back as 1991, included some coverage for elective abortion. Chairman Michael Steele instructed the RNC’s director of administration to opt out of any coverage for elective abortion services in its health insurance policy, the party said.
“Money from our loyal donors should not be used for this purpose. I don’t know why this policy existed in the past, but it will not exist under my administration. Consider this issue settled,” Steele said in a statement.
And what about religious-right groups? Yup. You guessed right again.
As it happens, Focus on the Family provides its employees health insurance through Principal, an insurance company that covers “abortion services.” A Focus spokeswoman confirmed the fact that the organization pays premiums to Principal, but declined to comment on whether that amounts to an indirect funding of abortion.
Even if the specific plan Focus uses for its employees doesn’t include abortion coverage–and I’m assuming it doesn’t–the organization and its employees still pay premiums to a company that funds abortions. If health reform proposals have a fungibility problem, then Focus does as well. And if they don’t think they do have a fungibility problem, then it would be interesting to hear why they think the set-up proposed in health reform legislation is so untenable.
(By the way, I’m not trying to pick on Focus on the Family, which has opposed congressional health reform proposals but certainly hasn’t been the only or leading organization involved. I suspect many of the groups denouncing health reform as funding abortion have the same issue with their own insurance plans. Focus was just the only group willing to call me back and confirm its insurance coverage.)
Is anyone really surprised here? The religious right’s attacks on health insurance reform aren’t based on principle. They’re based on partisan political calculations. That’s because the religious right isn’t a religious movement. It’s a political movement, and it marches in line with the Republican Party.