Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 13, 2009

RNC SUBSIDIZES ABORTIONS FOR 18 YEARS -- AND COUNTING.... The debate over financing of abortions -- the basis for the offensive Stupak amendment -- is all about money being fungible. Amy Sullivan explained the problem nicely recently: "The problem, they say, is that if any insurance plan that covers abortion is allowed to participate in a public exchange, then premiums paid to that plan in the form of taxpayer-funded subsidies help support that abortion coverage even if individual abortion procedures are paid for out of a separate pool of privately-paid premium dollars."

But applying this argument can prove problematic. Focus on the Family, for example, one of the nation's largest religious right organizations and a fierce opponent of abortion rights, has health insurance for its employees through a company that covers "abortion services." The far-right outfit, by its own standards, indirectly subsidizes abortions.

Apparently, the Republican National Committee has the same problem. Politico reported yesterday afternoon that the RNC -- whose platform calls abortion "a fundamental assault on innocent human life" -- gets insurance through Cigna with a plan that covers elective abortion. The Republicans' health care package has been in place since 1991 -- thanks, Lee Atwater -- meaning that, by the party's own argument, it has been indirectly subsidizing abortions for 18 years.

Complicating matters, Politico found that Cigna offers customers the opportunity to opt out of abortion coverage -- "and the RNC did not choose to opt out."

The Republican National Committee, not surprisingly, scrambled. By last night, it resolved the issue. Sort of.

The Republican National Committee will no longer offer employees an insurance plan that covers abortion after POLITICO reported Thursday that the anti-abortion RNC's policy has covered the procedure since 1991.

"Money from our loyal donors should not be used for this purpose," Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement. "I don't know why this policy existed in the past, but it will not exist under my administration. Consider this issue settled."

Steele has told the committee's director of administration to opt out of coverage for elective abortion in the policy it uses from Cigna.

But does that actually "settle" the matter? The new RNC policy, apparently, is to have insurance through Cigna, opting out of abortion coverage. But let's not lose sight of the original fungibility problem -- the RNC is taking Republican money and giving it to an insurance company through premiums. That company will then use its pool of money to pay for abortion services, not for RNC employees, but for other customers.

In other words, the Republican National Committee will still indirectly subsidize abortions, every time it writes a check to Cigna.

And if the RNC disagrees with this reasoning, and believes the issue is "settled," then the party has rejected the reasoning of the Stupak amendment at a fundamental level.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Comments

Making abortion illegal or restricting access to legal abortions does very little to alter the abortion rate in any country. It merely changes the mix between legal and illegal. With the wide availability of the morning after pill and drug induced abortions, expect to see a black market expand.

The one policy best known to reduce the abortion rate is access to and widespread use of birth control. Of course, much of the anti abortion crowd is also anti contraception. Go figure.

Posted by: bakho on November 13, 2009 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

AND still Stupak and his blackmailing cohorts were able to ramrod their personal preferences through to force inclusion of the amendment so DEMS would get the bill passed...OUR GOVERNMENT IN ACTION (always informed like the 'merican people)....

Posted by: Dancer on November 13, 2009 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Erick son of Erick at Redstate has already called for a wholesale roundup, show trial, and purge of RNC administrative staff involved with the insurance-buying decision. Let the purity purges continue!

As for whatever repercussions this might lead to with the religious right, I wouldn't expect much reaction. After all, abortion is a crime against humanity and a monstrous evil--unless you're a Republican. As usual, IOKIYAR.

Posted by: Domage on November 13, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure the "liberal media" will point out this obvious contradiction in Republican rhetoric at every opportunity.

Posted by: Gregory on November 13, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Humans are not only irrational but they are irrrational in depressingly predictable ways. Don't expect the logic of this to have any bearing on the resultant debate. Particularly when the loudest faction of the Right Wing actually holds ignorance up as a virtue.

Posted by: Paul Dirks on November 13, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

I was wondering how long it would take for NRC and others to follow bread crumbs to the logical conclusion of the Stupid, er, Stupak Amendment. Any bets that the plan Rush Limbaugh's company offers employees has an abortion services option? How about Faux News?

The problem, of course, is that such options are very, very common. Stupak is trying to deny abortions to poor people. Rich folks with high quality plans aren't about to be affected.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 13, 2009 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

AND still Stupak and his blackmailing cohorts were able to ramrod their personal preferences through to force inclusion of the amendment

Wow. Just like Pelosi was able to ramrod he personal preference - that everyone MUST buy insurance - into the health care bill. Or face a big fine and a jail sentence.

Welcome to the wonderful world of socialized medicine. Once you start dipping into taxpayer funds, you'll find your freedoms begin to get restricted. Or some bureaucrat somewhere decides what is best for you. Funny that.

FYI - if an illegal immigrant, under the new health care bill, fails to buy insurance and ends up in the hospital, will he/she go to jail?

Posted by: Jayson on November 13, 2009 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Hoisted on their own petard - as it were.
/snark

Posted by: Marko on November 13, 2009 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

How capable the RNC is of occupying two positions is amply illustrated with their noble blood , why even Mitt Romney is feted .

Posted by: FRP on November 13, 2009 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing that it's cheaper for an insurance company to pay for an abortion vs childbirth. So from a business/financial standpoint it makes sense to provide it. And I wonder if these standard policies automatically include it, and the employer has to opt out.

Posted by: cynicalgirl on November 13, 2009 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

Jayson?

Um, the spelling of your name is as stupid as your baseless, inane rants.

Better trolls, please.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on November 13, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

What I find remarkable is how little attention the "pro-life" side seems to care about pre-natal , pregnancy and birth care. If they really wanted to reduce abortions and maybe even encourage more women to have babies they would offer universal coverage to all women for everything but abotion-- free gyno exams, fertility treatments, pregnancy and birth.

Wait, what am I saying, this is not the party that gives a shit about women beyong wanting to control them. I forgot.

Posted by: zoekentucky on November 13, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Jayson :
I think you are better served to recall the sober dictum of the burgeoning saint , Sir Ronald Raygun , when he unflinchingly lofted his dystopian vision with the hopeful conclusion , when we were free .

Posted by: FRP on November 13, 2009 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

This is hilarious. They knew about the abortion coverage and they purposefully chose it for themselves.

Posted by: FS on November 13, 2009 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Jayson--Talk to the folks on medicare. I'm sure they'll be more than happy to explain to you how the government has taken over their medical decision-making. LOL. And while you're at it, ask the republicans in Congress who have medicare how it restricts those freedoms they love to say will be taken over by hcr.
Pelosi didn't ram anything down anyone's throat. Many republicans in Congress were for individual mandates before they were against them. Sen. Grassley is one example. Wonder why he all of a sudden changed his mind?
Furthermore, because the republicans decided not to work on hcr in good faith and failed to stop it in the House doesn't mean that they didn't have opportunities to work with dems on the bill. Instead of working they were engaged on a slash and burn policy of lies, attacks, and disinformation. They just chose to be obstructionists, as usual, and they have to accept the fact that, however this bill turns out, they failed to do their job by blocking a mandate from the majority of the American people instead of working to fulfill it.

Posted by: majii on November 13, 2009 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

You know, I get why Politico decided to run with this story yesterday. Any whiff of Republican hypocracy is news, I suppose. But in the end, all Politico did was screw over the women who work for the RNC and who had the benefits of that coverage. Way to go, Politico. That was a really wonderful thing to do.

Posted by: Freddie on November 13, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Nice try, Freddie. The women who work for the RNC are already screwed over in more ways than we have space to name here.

Posted by: FS on November 13, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

of course Republicans wanted abortion coverage. You never know when your rebellious daughter's going to bang a minority for weed. No Porsche for your super sweet 16 missy, you'll have to make do with your mom's old Land Rover. Suffer unto all the superpretty children.

Posted by: slappy magoo on November 13, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Nice try FS, so the obvious option is to screw them over even further? That's really interesting "logic."

Posted by: Freddie on November 13, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

I don't feel sorry for the women who work for the RNC - they made their bed...

Posted by: Virginia on November 13, 2009 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

We really appreciate your concern for the women of the RNC, Freddy. You know, there are resources for low-income women working for generally women-oppressing organizations who need help financing their abortions. Why don't you put together a list for them?

Posted by: sally on November 13, 2009 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

By this "fungibility" reasoning, any money you spend on a purchase from any company that provides health insurance for its employees might be used to provide coverage for an abortion. For that matter, any money you spend on anything supports the U.S. economy, which in turn makes the medical insurance industry possible.

So the abortion prohibitionist crowd had better stop sending money on anything at all, just to be safe.

Posted by: Virginia on November 13, 2009 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

SILLY WABBITS...women who work for the RNC would NEVER had an abortion...it's in their contract I'm betting..anyway they are all GODLY and such!!!

Posted by: Dancer on November 13, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Freddie -- if RNC cancels the abortion coverage, that's the fault of RNC, not Politico.

And, gee, I wonder if any RNC officials took advantage of that provision in the policy . . .

Posted by: A DC Wonk on November 13, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

It's even worse than that. They're only opting out of coverage for elective abortions. That means if a woman can get a doctor to certify that an abortion is medically indicated for her health (rather than just to save her life) the RNC plan will still pay for it.

Of course no sane woman would want to pay for insurance that didn't cover necessary health-preserving care, but the RNC is still ignoring its own supposed principles.

Posted by: paul on November 13, 2009 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Welcome to the wonderful world of socialized medicine.

First, HCR is about cost control and insurance coverage, not about "medicine" as such. Lowering costs, increasing safety, and ensuring efficiency by streamlining medical records and instituting best medical practices is both smart and necessary. Getting everyone covered under some type of insurance, other than the Republican ER plan, increases public health while lowering overall cost. Stopping the private insurance habits of rescission and denial of legitimate coverage is the only morally conscionable thing to do.
These changes have little to do with the actual practice of medicine, although arguably, any changes regarding costs lead to some change elsewhere.

Second, after 30+ years of privatized health insurance, I'm ready to wake up from this nightmare. Thanks to the genius of Nixon, Kaiser, and republican ideology, we left a non-profit health insurance system for this morass and haven't been the same since.
Jayson, why do you put shareholder profits above my health? Fuck you.

Posted by: about time on November 13, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

"And if the RNC disagrees with this reasoning, and believes the issue is 'settled,' then the party has rejected the reasoning of the Stupak amendment at a fundamental level."
Steve Benen 8:00 AM

"the RNC is still ignoring its own supposed principles."
Posted by: paul on November 13, 2009 at 9:4

Republicans are the literal embodiment of hypocrisy.

Our other breaking headline news: the sky is blue; grass, green; and the Pope, Catholic. Oh, and bears defecate in woods. Film at 11.

Posted by: smartalek on November 13, 2009 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

And if the RNC disagrees with this reasoning, and believes the issue is "settled," then the party has rejected the reasoning of the Stupak amendment at a fundamental level.
----------------------------------

The Republicans were never capable of reasoning at a level much above their fundaments in the first place, but why shouldn't they reject what you generously call the "reasoning" of the Stupak amendment?

Stupak ran as the Democratic Party candidate. Nothing more than his party affiliation -- whether they agree with, disagree with, or never figured out in the first place what his amendment calls for -- would be needed for the Party of No to say No.

Posted by: Party of No says No on November 13, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

"But in the end, all Politico did was screw over the women who work for the RNC and who had the benefits of that coverage"

Good point, Freddie. But nobody is forcing them to work there. Those women are free to work wherever they want.

Posted by: Marko on November 13, 2009 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

The RNC might as well hand out coat hangers now that they no longer provide safe, medical procedures for their fetal errors.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on November 13, 2009 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

We should be asking Joe LIEberman and others who accept donations from insurance companies why they are accepting money from companies that fund abortions. And also find out if the insurance policies they currently have include abortion coverage.

There can be no overestimating of the hypocrisy of the members of the Republican't party.

Posted by: JCtx on November 13, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Um, hellooo?
The Stupak amendment was written and passed by DEMOCRATS. Why are we even talking about the Republicans on this point.

Posted by: CU on November 13, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

It should be noted that the Federal tax system subsidizes insurance that provides abortions today through the insurance tax credit and medical expense reimbursement plans.

Posted by: George on November 13, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

The Stupak amendment was written and passed by DEMOCRATS. Why are we even talking about the Republicans on this point.

Probably because every Republican in the House voted for it and the coauthor of the bill is a guy named Pitts. You might want to google him. You'll find some interesting reading on C Street and the Family.

Posted by: Tom K on November 13, 2009 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

But in the end, all Politico did was screw over the women who work for the RNC and who had the benefits of that coverage.

No problemo, Freddie. Those women can just go to an emergency room for their health needs.

Posted by: josef on November 13, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

As someone mentioned earlier: how many and who in the RNC have used the abortion services provided by their coverage? That would be an interesting list and exposee. Anyone have that list? In 18 years, there have to be more than a few instances, even for health reasons. Care to provide names?

Posted by: st johhn on November 13, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect that the forced birth contingent would consider it a feature rather than a bug if the end result was that no insurance companies covered abortion, birth control, or pretty much any icky women's stuff except the production of more citizens.

Posted by: thebewilderness on November 13, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

As someone mentioned earlier: how many and who in the RNC have used the abortion services provided by their coverage? That would be an interesting list and exposee. Anyone have that list?

Let's try to stay calm here. Releasing people's private medical information is not high on our list of admirable behaviors, even if it were remotely legal.

Posted by: shortstop on November 13, 2009 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

@shortstop: you are probably right on this. I do get excited when I think of the hypocrisy. The killing of abortion providers; picketing and harrassing clients of family planning clinics; lying about what is and is not covered in healthcare reform. But, let us ask for some accountability and we are slammed.

Posted by: st john on November 13, 2009 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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