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Medicare Legislation Could Contain Abortion Restrictions

Medicare Legislation Could Contain Abortion Restrictions

March 23, 2015 — Abortion-rights advocates are raising concern that a House plan to address Medicare physician payments includes abortion restrictions in a provision that would fund community health centers, Politico reports.

The Medicare legislation aims to put in place a long-term solution to a problematic formula that Medicare uses to determine physician reimbursements. Congress has been addressing the issue with short-term fixes for years (Pradhan/Mershon, Politico, 3/21). The House plan also includes $7.2 billion over two years for community health centers, which provide care for low-income U.S. residents (Cornwell, Reuters, 3/20).

Politico reports that the community health centers provision includes Hyde Amendment language that restricts federal funding for abortion (Politico, 3/20). As of Friday, the antiabortion-rights language had yet to be released, so the details remain unclear (Reuters, 3/20).

Groups Condemn Efforts To Include Abortion Restrictions

NARAL Pro-Choice America in a statement on Friday urged House members "who say they stand for women to reject any anti-choice legislation, including Hyde."

Further, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said in a statement, "Congress should be expanding women's access to basic, preventive health care. Instead, women's health care access is being ignored while some politicians instead continue their fixation on blocking the most vulnerable women's access to abortion."

Referring to a human trafficking bill (S 178) that also contains abortion restrictions, Richards said, "It is outrageous that for the second time in two weeks, some politicians are using important legislation to advance their anti-abortion agenda on the backs of the most vulnerable" (Politico, 3/21).

Lawmakers Comment

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, also expressed concern about the abortion restrictions.

Wyden called the antiabortion-rights provision "a complete non-starter that has no place in a bill about access to care for America's seniors and children," while a spokesperson for Reid said that "Republicans are trying to slowly but systematically expand the scope of Hyde" (Reuters, 3/20).