Human Exceptionalism

Obamacare: Senate Panel Votes on Abortion and Illegal Aliens Shellgame Illuminates the Future

A great shell game is being played by supporters of Obamacare.  Abortion isn’t “in the bill,” they loudly proclaim, and “illegal aliens aren’t covered.”  Yet, as they loudly decry those worried about such matter as “lying about the bill,” they simultaneously refuse to include explicit language guaranteeing that abortion will not be paid for with federal funds. Nor will they require common sense steps be taken to ensure that illegal aliens do not sign up for federal health care benefits–as in the Baucus Senate committee votes yesterday.  From the story on abortion:

Mr. Baucus said he didn’t want to add abortion to the debate. “This is a health-care bill,” he said. “This is not an abortion bill. We are not changing current law.” The legislation sets up subsidies for lower-income people to buy insurance and makes the subsidies subject to existing limits on federal funding of abortion. Those limits, enacted annually in routine government spending bills [the Hyde Amendment], bar the use of federal funds, except in cases of rape, incest and saving the life of the mother. Under the Baucus bill, private health plans would be required to prevent federal insurance subsidies from mingling with any private funds used for abortions.

That means not a thing. Money is fungible and the separate accounts would thus be meaningless.  Moreover, the Capps Amendment in the House would both permit the Secretary of HHS to include abortion coverage in the public plan and the bill sets up a seperate government account for insurance payments to doctors that are not subject to Hyde restrictions. Hence, abortion will be paid for by government funds.

 And here’s the story on illegal aliens:

Senate Finance Committee Democrats rejected a proposed a requirement that immigrants prove their identity with photo identification when signing up for federal healthcare programs. Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that current law and the healthcare bill under consideration are too lax and leave the door open to illegal immigrants defrauding the government using false or stolen identities to obtain benefits…

Without that requirement, the bill “remains dearly lacking when it comes to identification,” Grassley said. “Frankly, I’m very perplexed as to why anyone would oppose this amendment,” he said. But Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who represents the border state of New Mexico, said that the type of fraud Grassley said he wants to prevent is highly uncommon. “The way I see the amendment, it’s a solution without a problem,” Bingaman said.

Is Bingaman really that naive?  And even if he is right, what harm would flow from better ensuring that only those entitled to benefits, receive them?  In fact, without proof of identity, illegal aliens will be covered. And once that becomes known, poor people will flock here for better health care, quickening the breaking of the federal bank.  

And it will only get worse in the regulatory process. Remember, the bill is the skeleton, the regulations are the flesh and blood. Absent explicit language of the kind that has been repeatedly defeated (e.g., no rationing), unpopular provisions will be put in the law by faceless bureaucrats–allowing elected officials to say with big innocent eyes, “I never voted for that!”  This tactic of ensuring plausible deniability to shield politicians from voter accountability is corrupting our democratic institutions.

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