Senator Coburn Calls Health Care Bill's Abortion Language A Fraud
By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
WASHINGTON -- Democrats strike a deal to shore up the final vote they need to pass health care reform in the Senate.
By toughening restriction on abortion coverage, Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson has agreed to support the plan.
The President calls Saturday's compromise a major step forward in providing health insurance to the millions living without.
But, Senator Tom Coburn calls it a fraud that will lead to taxpayer funded abortions. The Oklahoma republican was one of the first to speak out against the bill.
Senator Coburn says Saturday's developments put the country on the path for federally funded abortions. But his critics call the Senator's posturing an empty gesture.
"The negotiations, whoever did them, threw unborn babies under the bus," said Sen. Tom Coburn, (R) Oklahoma.
An angry Senator Tom Coburn took to the podium shortly after it was learned that Nebraska democrat Ben Nelson agreed to a healthcare reform compromise.
The bill has restrictions on abortion coverage in policies sold inside the government exchanges.
States would be permitted to ban insurance coverage of abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life. It also creates a way to keep funds that would be used to pay for abortions separated from federal subsidy dollars flowing to health plans.
In states where coverage is permitted, consumers must notify the company they want it and pay for it separately.
But Senator Coburn says there's no way to keep federal money separated unless abortions are strictly prohibited in a public plan.
"For the first time in the history of this country, under this bill, federal tax dollars will be used to pay for abortions," said Sen. Coburn.
But Oklahoma democrats say the senator's anger is misguided.
"Clearly he's just putting a series of political stunts ahead of doing what's right for Oklahoma or Oklahoma families," said Karina Henderson, Oklahoma Democratic Party.
Karina Henderson says Senator Coburn should spend more time at the bargaining table than in front of the microphones.
"I think what Senator Coburn is doing is using a divisive issue as an excuse for his own failures to govern," said Karina Henderson.
The Congressional Budget Office said the Senate bill would extend coverage to more than 30 million Americans who lack it. But Senator Coburn says it simply goes too far to fund a procedure that pro-life groups say should stay out of the government wallet.
The other health care plans under consideration all ban the use of government money to pay for abortions.
Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn's news release:
"This reprehensible and deceptive agreement is a historic and radical shift in policy that will require taxpayers to pay for abortion. The American people will be outraged when they realize this so-called compromise is a farce. I can't imagine there is a single pro-life taxpayer in Nebraska, or any other state, who would agree to pay to end the lives of the unborn for a never-ending Medicaid earmark or tax breaks for insurance companies. Unfortunately, Senators Reid and Nelson disagree," Dr. Coburn said.
"The fact that the most ardent pro-choice Senators support this agreement while pro-life groups, such as the National Right to Life Committee, oppose it should send a chilling signal to taxpayers in Nebraska and across America. Majority Leader Reid wants to rush this phony agreement through the Senate precisely because he does not want the American people to have time to understand its implications. Yet, in spite of these efforts to mislead the public, the American people will grasp and understand this decision and they will hold accountable anyone who defends sacrificing the unborn on the altar of political expediency," Dr. Coburn said.
"Senators Reid, Nelson and others are using Enron-style accounting gimmicks to justify this radical shift in policy. Their claim that federal dollars will be separated from private dollars paid by premiums is a farce and they know it. In reality, the dollars will be fungible and mixed just as Social Security ‘trust fund' dollars are used to finance other areas of government," Dr. Coburn said. "The fact is this agreement, which was allegedly reached after weeks of gut-wrenching negotiations, is an elaborate charade. This new language is identical to, or worse than, the underlying abortion language in the Reid bill. Senators Reid, Nelson and others will have great difficulty convincing taxpayers that they were working to accomplish something other than carving out special favors for particular states."