Affordable Healthcare for America Act

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Affordable Healthcare for America Act : Abortion

The new healthcare reform approved by Congress states that abortion -- unless justified by rape, incest, or danger to the mother's or child's health -- will not be covered under the suggested universal healthcare plan. In an address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama explained how health insurance reform will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance, coverage for those who do not, and will lower the cost of health care for our families, our businesses, and our government. There are 190 members of the House who are pro-choice, among them Representative Rosa Delauro, a democrat from Connecticut, who “was reportedly furious when this amendment came out calling it the biggest infringement on women's choice she had ever seen”.[1] However, I find it just the opposite. It is not the choice being taken away; it is the option to have an abortion paid for by the citizens of the United States. If a woman wants an abortion, she will just have to pay for it herself.

First off, it would be beneficial to understand why the new healthcare reform was, and continues to be, such a major topic in today's news. Everyone knows that medical care is expensive, so the easiest thing to do is to pay a certain sum per month for health insurance. This insurance is basically a safeguard, in case an accident happens or someone gets sick. That way, they do not have to pay an enormous sum of money. However, the number of Americans who have health insurance is continually getting smaller. 46 million Americans have no health insurance, and 25 million are underinsured[2], so the idea of a national health care plan seems to be a good idea. One major reason for this crisis is that many employers have stopped offering insurance to employees because of the high cost. In the United States, total health care spending was $2.4 trillion in 2007 -- or $7,900 per person -- according to an analysis published in the journal, “Health Affairs”. The United States spends 52 percent more per person than the next most costly nation, Norway, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. President Obama's ideas for the new healthcare reform include offering all Americans the option of a government funded health insurance program, rather than personal insurers, comparable to the Medicare program offered to Americans aged 65 or older.

The Commonwealth Fund Report of 2006 was a study over peoples' satisfaction with their healthcare plans. The study measured effectiveness, patient safety, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency and equity. Six countries, including Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, participated. Overall, Germany ranked first, followed by New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, with the United States trailing behind. Each country has its own unique healthcare system, but it seems that our English counterparts (as well as their colonies) do a better job satisfying their patients better than Americans.

About 88 percent of Germany's population is covered by their statutory insurance, with h 9% of people covered by private health insurance and 2% by free governmental health care (including police, soldiers, civil servants and people on welfare). all Germans in gainful employment - as well as pensioners, the unemployed, farmers, students, artists and the disabled - must be insured against sickness. People with incomes above an established level, may choose whether or not to stay in the scheme or to pay for comprehensive private insurance. All people are entitled to purchase complimentary or supplementary private insurance.[3]

New Zealand is financed predominantly from general taxation, and its health system covers all residents of the country. Public hospital outpatient and inpatient services are free; however, most people pay some of the costs of primary care and make a co-payment for pharmaceuticals. Subsidies for primary care and prescriptions are available for low-income patients. Health services are delivered by a mix of public and private providers. Private insurance is voluntary, insuring against gap or supplemental costs, but do not offer comprehensive health coverage. About 33% of the population have supplemental private insurance.

One of the highest debated topics in the healthcare reform is the availability of abortions. The bill does not take away the option of abortion, it simply denies coverage for them unless the reason falls under certain terms like rape, or incest. Just recently, on November 7th, 2009, the Stupak amendment was added to the healthcare bill. Introduced by House Democrat Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan, a leader of the anti-abortion forces, the amendment changes the abortion provision to permit abortion coverage for people receiving federal aid for their insurance only in the case of rape or incest or when the mother's life is endangered. That change is consistent with a 1970s-era federal law governing public funding of abortion: elective coverage for abortion would only come when people buy their own private insurance. The Stupak amendment does nothing to change the legality of abortion. The procedure would remain legal, with whatever restrictions apply in each state, and insurance policies could continue to cover abortion. What the Stupak amendment would do is prohibit any government-run insurance plan created by health care legislation from covering abortion. And it would prohibit people who receive affordability credits under the House health care bill from using those credits to purchase a policy with abortion coverage. People who are pro-life say it maintains the status quo on using federal funds for abortion, whereas people who are pro-choice say it would have the effect of preventing insurance companies from coverage the procedure for anyone. The Stupak amendment vote resulted at 240-194, and was adopted as part of the bill.

The need for the Stupak amendment arose just before the 4th of July, 2009. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, received a letter from nineteen democratic representatives from the House. The letter explicitly warned that “we cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan.”[4]

The House Democrats needed 218 votes to ensure passage of the healthcare reform bill. In the end, it appeared the vote would come down to the wire, as the intentions of some conservative Democrats remained unknown. In the final tally, 219 Democrats voted for the legislation, and 39 voted against it. Representative Joe Cao from Louisiana was the only Republican who voted in favor of the bill.