Update: Brook Hougesen, Senator Ernst’s Communications Director, told Caffeinated Thoughts that Ernst will work to see Hyde Amendment language added to the bill.
“Senator Ernst has long been a champion of pro-life issues, from leading the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and redirecting those funds to other women’s health services to banning abortion at five months of a pregnancy. Senator Ernst is a leader in the Senate on pro-life issues and is working through Chairman Alexander to include Hyde amendment protections as the process moves forward,” Hougesen said.
Original: Iowa’s U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) cosponsored a bill that represents the second largest expansion of abortion funding after Obamacare.
The bill introduced on Tuesday by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee. They said would help to stabilize the individual health insurance market and begin to lower the costs of premiums, so all Americans have access to health insurance.
“We have reached an agreement on bipartisan legislation that will extend cost-sharing reduction payments during 2018 and 2019, protect consumers facing higher premiums this year, and give states meaningful flexibility to create greater choices among health insurance policies in the individual health insurance market.” Alexander and Murray said in a joint statement.
“The goal of this bipartisan legislation is to stabilize and then lower the cost of health insurance premiums and ensure that Americans are able to purchase health insurance in the individual health insurance market. This legislation is based upon witness testimony from four bipartisan hearings that the Senate health committee held last month,” they added.
Chris Jacobs told Caffeinated Thoughts for this week’s podcast that the bill does not include any Hyde Amendment language so next to Obamacare it represents the second largest expansion of funding for abortion.
Jacobs added in a recent piece at The Federalist:
However, if Alexander does not explicitly add the Hyde Amendment protections to the “stabilization bill,” the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers will be used to fund plans that cover abortion. There is little reason to believe Murray would endorse such a restriction. If the Hyde Amendment restrictions apply to the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, then in order to receive said payments, it is likely insurers would have to stop offering abortion coverage on exchanges—an outcome Murray, and Democrats, would not wish to countenance.
In addition to Alexander and Murray, they announced on Thursday that 24 Senators co-sponsored their bill that includes Grassley and Ernst.
The additional 22 U.S. Senators are Mike Rounds (R-SD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Bill Cassidy (R-LA.), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Corker (R-TN), Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Al Franken (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Maggie Hassan (D-NN).
Ernst, in a released statement announcing her support, said, “As I have said, time-and-time again, continuing the status quo in Iowa is simply not an option.This bipartisan bill will work to help stabilize the markets for the next two years, give permanent flexibility to states like Iowa, and offer more choices to consumers on the individual market. While I was disappointed that the Senate was unable to advance important changes to ObamaCare earlier this year, I remain committed to working to find ways to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and provide relief for Iowans suffering from skyrocketing premiums and dwindling individual market options.”
Susan B. Anthony List on Wednesday announced their opposition.
“The legislation proposed by Senators Alexander and Murray would do nothing more than prop up Obamacare, the largest expansion of abortion-on-demand since Roe,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said. “This is an inadequate, short-sighted approach which fails to address the abortion funding problems created by the health care overhaul. Right now nearly 900 health care plans subsidized by taxpayer dollars cover abortion – forcing taxpayers to be complicit in the destruction of human life.
“In no way does the Alexander-Murray bill fulfill Republicans’ campaign promise to repeal and replace the ACA. That’s why Congress must use reconciliation to address all of the issues, including abortion-funding, in Obamacare,” she added.