On March 14, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin posted a new anti-health care reform essay on her Facebook page that contains numerous falsehoods regarding reconciliation, House rules, and "federal funding of abortion."
Palin rehashes falsehoods about the House vote, reconciliation, abortion funding
Palin: Democrats want to use reconciliation to "bypass the regular voting procedure." In a March 14 Facebook post, Palin accused Democrats of trying to "ram through their takeover of our health care system regardless of the consequences" and of being "determined to use the Senate reconciliation process as a parliamentary trick to bypass the regular voting procedure."
Palin: House Democrats are trying to pass health care "without actually voting on it." Palin also accused House Democrats of trying to pass the Senate health care bill without a vote. She said: "The latest twists and turns in the Obamacare drama seem almost surreal. One minute the Democrat [sic] leadership is trying to amend a bill before the president has even signed it into law, and the next minute they're trying to draft a new rule that will allow the House to 'deem' a bill passed without actually voting on it!"
Palin falsely suggests that the Senate bill provides "federal funding for abortion." Palin commended the "Republicans in Congress" and the "Democrats [who] are standing with them" for "holding the line" in opposing health care reform. Palin specifically cited Rep. Bart Stupak as an example of a Democrat who is "holding the line" by saying "he won't vote for the Senate bill if federal funding of abortion is included." Stupak has repeatedly falsely claimed that the Senate bill allows for federal funding of abortion, while the abortion amendment he sponsored in the House bill does not. Stupak has also falsely maintained that his amendment does not go beyond the Hyde Amendment, which currently prohibits the federal funding of abortion, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.
Fox Nation highlighted Palin's post. Fox Nation posted Palin's Facebook essay and highlighted it with the headline "Palin: 'This is the Final Push!'" From Fox Nation:
Reconciliation is already part of Senate voting procedure, and has been used to pass health care legislation
Reconciliation process is part of congressional budget process. The budget reconciliation process is defined by the U.S. House Committee on Rules as "part of the congressional budget process ... utilized when Congress issues directives to legislate policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws) to achieve the goals in spending and revenue contemplated by the budget resolution."
Republicans repeatedly used reconciliation to pass Bush's agenda. Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as well as the 2005 "Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act." The Senate also used the procedure to pass a bill containing a provision that would permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (The final version of that bill signed by Bush did not contain the provision on drilling.)
Reconciliation has repeatedly been used to reform the health care system. On February 24, NPR noted that many "major changes to health care laws" have passed via reconciliation. These measures include COBRA, which allows laid-off workers to keep their insurance coverage, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program:
On NPR, Rosenbaum stated, "[T]he way in which virtually all of health reform ... has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process." During the February 24 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, health policy correspondent Julie Rovner quoted George Washington University professor Sara Rosenbaum saying: "In fact, the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process."
House would still need to vote on changes to Senate bill
Report: House would still have to vote on corrections to the Senate bill. Contrary to Palin's claim that the House would " 'deem' a bill passed without actually voting on it," CongressDaily reported (subscription required) that the rule would require that the "House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version" for passage. From NationalJournal.com's CongressDaily:
House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is prepping to help usher the healthcare overhaul through the House and potentially avoid a direct vote on the Senate overhaul bill, the chairwoman said Tuesday.
Slaughter is weighing preparing a rule that would consider the Senate bill passed once the House approves a corrections bill that would make changes to the Senate version.
Senate bill prohibits health insurers from using federal subsidies to pay for abortion services restricted by Hyde
Senate bill prohibits issuers from using federal funds "for purposes of paying for" abortion. The Senate health care reform bill as passed states that if a "qualified health plan" offered under the health insurance exchange provides coverage of abortion services for which public funding is banned, "the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable" to the subsidies created under the bill "for purposes of paying for such services."
Senate bill establishes a separate premium to segregate funds used to pay for abortions from federal funds. The Senate bill as passed further requires issuers to "collect from each enrollee" in plans that cover abortions a "separate payment" for "an amount equal to the actuarial value of the coverage of" abortion services. This value must be at least $1 per enrollee, per month. All such funds are deposited into a separate account used by the issuer to pay for abortion services; federal funds and the remaining premium payments are used to pay for all other services.
Current law allows for Medicaid to provide coverage for abortions restricted by Hyde by using similar fund segregation. According to a November 1, 2009, study by the Guttmacher Institute, 17 states provide coverage under Medicaid for "all or most medically necessary abortions," not just abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. Those states "us[e] their own funds" -- not federal funds -- "to pay" for the procedures. Therefore, in 17 states, Medicaid, a federally subsidized health care program, covers abortions in circumstances in which federal money is prohibited from being spent on abortion.