President Obama threatened on Monday to fight or veto three moves afoot in the House to hobble the health care reform law: one that aims to prevent the use of federal dollars to pay for abortions, one that takes money away from new health insurance exchanges, and a third that would expand school health clinics.
All three were being marked up late Monday by the House Rules Committee in preparation for floor action.
One, H.R. 3, aims to make permanent the “Hyde Amendment”, an existing year-to-year ban on the use of government money to pay for abortions. Doing so would circumvent the usual congressional action to include the amendment annually in appropriations legislation.
It goes beyond typical practice by also banning many tax breaks for health services if employer-sponsored or individual coverage includes abortion services.
“The administration strongly opposes H.R. 3 because it: intrudes on women's reproductive freedom and access to health care; increases the tax burden on many Americans; unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choices that consumers have today; and restricts the District of Columbia’s use of local funds, which undermines home rule,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.
“Longstanding federal policy prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered. This prohibition is maintained in the Affordable Care Act and reinforced through the president’s Executive Order 13535. H.R. 3 goes well beyond these safeguards by interfering with consumers’ private health care choices. If the president is presented with H.R. 3, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.”
A second bill would take money away from school clinics. “H.R. 1214 would repeal the Affordable Care Act's school-based health center construction grants and rescind unobligated balances,” OMB said.
“The ... administration will strongly oppose legislation that attempts to erode the important provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.”
The third bill goes after exchanges, the amorphous marketplaces where many Americans will go to buy health insurance under the new health care law. Republicans have promised to gut the health care law by taking cash away from provisions such as the exchanges.
“Exchanges will allow Americans to compare prices and health insurance plans and decide which quality, affordable option is right for them,” OMB said. “If the president is presented with H.R. 1213, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
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