Today, the Senate health committee approved legislation expanding insurance coverage to nearly all Americans, becoming the first congressional panel to make a move on President Obama’s health care plan. House Democrats released their proposal for health care overhaul yesterday.
Truth be told, I’m not all that jazzed for Obama’s proposal. He conceded necessary reforms too soon by starting with his “public option” plan instead of a complete overhaul. A single-payer system would be change I can believe in (even if most congresspeople do not). Obama should have asked for more than what he knew he could get (single-payer) and worked from there, rather than beginning in the middle and working rightward.
But what’s done is done. What threatens us now is the attack on reproductive rights. Abortion opponents are promising to throw a wrench into the reform process by refusing to support a bill that does not exclude coverage for abortion services. Republican Senator Tom Coburn said, “The rest of the people in this country should not be paying for [abortion] services through their tax dollars.” Nineteen House Democrats have informed Speaker Nancy Pelosi that they will not support a bill that includes abortion funding. They are effectively insisting that the Hyde Amendment – the Medicaid abortion ban – should apply to the potential public health insurance plan. Women who currently have abortion coverage could lose it, and poor women would suffer the most.
“The next step in this logic will be to require anybody seeking these services to walk to the clinic, lest they use federal highways, supported by federal highway funds,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat. Hm, why haven’t the anti-choicers thought of that? I don’t want my own tax dollars spent to lock people up for non-violent drug offenses, or to bomb Iraqi cities, or to help old men get better, longer-lasting boners. I do want the public health care option to cover the full range of reproductive health services for women. Women deserve nothing less.