Casey Responds to PHL Concerns Over Health Care Bill
Board members of the Scranton Chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life met with Senator Casey’s Field Representative, Sharon Lynett, regarding Government Health Care Reform. Two of the main concerns were that abortion be specifically excluded from Health Care Reform, and that there be no rationing of health care to the elderly.
A statement received from Senator Casey claims that it is a myth that health care reform will mandate euthanasia as a cost saving measure. In addition, his position on federal funding of abortion "remains the same as it always has been" I am opposed."
His statement further states: Contrary to the assertion of some advocates, the Affordable Health Choices Act, as reported out of committee, does not explicitly authorize federal funding of abortion nor does it mandate abortion coverage in insurance plans. These are issues which have not been resolved and which must be dealt with in clear, unambiguous language, as the legislative process continues.
Our contention remains that if abortion is not specifically excluded in the bill, it will be included. We continue to request that no health care reform be passed without a specific exclusion for abortion. Clearly, Senator Casey shares our concerns on this issue because he listed several votes he made to exclude abortion when the bill was in committee on amendments that were defeated and he has stated that these issues remain to be addressed. The question is, how vehemently will Senator Casey insist these issues be addressed on the Senate floor and will he support the health care bill if they are NOT addressed? Senator Casey has only a 66% pro-life rating from the National Right to Life Committee because his voting record demonstrates that he is willing to go along with the left wing of his party if he feels a greater good is being served. Case in point, Casey voted to reverse Bush’s Mexico City policy which prohibited federal funding of overseas groups which promote or provide abortions. Will he similarly vote to pass a national health care bill if it does not prohibit the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions in the United States if Senator Casey feels the "greater good" of providing universal health care is better served?
Our view is that no health care bill is worth the destruction of innocent human life in exchange for universal coverage and that it is possible to exclude federal funding of abortion to get it passed. We hope that Senator Casey will take a principled stand and make his vote contingent upon the protection of all American citizens, born and unborn.
On the issue of euthanasia, Senator Casey stated that the idea of health care reform resulting in mandated euthanasia is an "outlandish" myth. What is a myth is that pro-life opponents of the health care bill are stating that such language is in the bill. What we are saying is that this bill gives so much coverage to so many people that health care rationing is inevitable and that rationing will lead to prioritizing patient needs, reduced health care for the elderly, patient neglect and abuse, and pressuring people to make "end-of-life" decisions they are not ready to make. The media storm over the Veterans Administration booklet, "Your Life, Your Choices" is a perfect example of what happens when big government imposes itself on personal decision-making.
Finally, we agree with Senator Casey that health care reform, in and of itself, is not necessarily socialized medicine, but we further believe that THIS health care bill, in its current form, calls for nothing less than government control of the health care industry, especially if the public option is included. This could very well lead to socialized medicine and a disaster for American health care.
The full text of Senator Casey’s response to PHL:
Health care reform will provide a sense of security for families who are worried about losing their coverage if they lose their jobs, move, have an unexpected illness, or if they or their employer can no longer afford coverage. Reform will add consumer protections to make sure that insurance companies do the right thing. Some of these consumer protections include:
No discrimination for pre-existing conditions;
No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays;
No charge for preventative care like regular checkups and tests; and
No annual or lifetime caps on coverage.
The alternative proposed by some is to do nothing. The cost of doing nothing is too much for our families and our country to bear.
The economic crisis has only increased the ever escalating cost of health care and the number of people losing their insurance. Businesses, especially small businesses, are straining to pay health care costs for their employees or are being forced to drop coverage.
Without reform, health care spending will continue to outpace incomes and inflation. Budget deficits will grow as more federal and state spending is consumed by health care obligations.
Premiums have doubled in the last nine years. By 2016, premiums for family coverage in Pennsylvania are estimated to consume 51.7% of the median Pennsylvania family income. According to Families USA, 2.8 million Pennsylvanians under age 65 - 27.3% of the population - did not have health insurance at some point in the last two years.
Unfortunately, there is also a lot of misinformation and myths surrounding the health care debate. One of the more outlandish myths is that health care reform will mandate euthanasia as a cost savings measure. This is absolutely false. Reform is not socialized medicine. It does not seek to end the private insurance industry. If you like your plan, you can keep it. There is no rationing of health care. The government shouldn't get in the way of you and your doctor, nor should your insurance company - that is happening now and will continue to without health insurance reform. These are just some of the examples of how extreme the misinformation surrounding the health care debate has become.
I am a member of the United States Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (the HELP Committee) and participated extensively in the recent markup of proposed health care reform legislation known as the Affordable Health Choices Act (the Act). My position on federal funding of abortion remains the same as it always has been: I am opposed. Consistent with that position, I cast the following votes in the HELP Committee markup:
* I voted for the Hatch amendment No. 227 to prohibit federal funding of abortion in the Act;
* I voted for the Coburn amendment No. 246 to codify the Hyde/Weldon conscience protection law in the Act;
* I voted for the Enzi amendment No. 277 to prevent the Act from mandating abortion coverage;
* I voted for the Coburn amendment No. 272 to prevent the Act from preempting state laws on abortion;
* I voted against the Mikulski amendment No. 201 because of my concern about whether the term "preventive services" could include abortion.
I continue to believe that health care reform can be achieved without changing the current status quo regarding federal funding of abortion. That is, we can expand health insurance coverage and control costs without providing federal funding or federally mandated coverage of abortion in health insurance plans.
Contrary to the assertion of some advocates, the Affordable Health Choices Act, as reported out by the HELP Committee, does not explicitly authorize federal funding of abortion nor does it mandate abortion coverage in insurance plans. These are issues which have not been resolved and which must be dealt with in clear, unambiguous language, as the legislative process continues.
I look forward to continuing to travel around the Commonwealth speaking with and listening to constituents about health care and to representing your interests in Washington as the debate moves forward. You can also visit my web page at casey.senate.gov where you can sign up for my email newsletter.