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House Passes Medicare Legislation That Includes Abortion Restrictions

House Passes Medicare Legislation That Includes Abortion Restrictions

March 27, 2015 — The House on Thursday voted 392-37 to approve Medicare legislation (HR 2) that contains antiabortion-rights language in a provision that would fund community health centers, the New York Times reports (Steinhauer/Pear, New York Times, 3/26).

Background

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.

Abortion-rights advocates have raised concern about the abortion restrictions in the community health centers provision. Specifically, the provision includes Hyde Amendment language that restricts federal funding for abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/23).

Prospects in the Senate

The bill now heads to the Senate, which is unlikely to vote on it before lawmakers adjourn Friday for a two-week recess. Senate Democrats do not favor the abortion restrictions or the House bill's two-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, which they had hoped to extend for four years (New York Times, 3/26).

However, Senate Democrats have become more accepting of the two-year CHIP extension, and some of them became less resistant to the abortion restrictions after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) adjusted the provision's language (Scott, National Journal, 3/26).

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who disliked the abortion and CHIP provisions, said, "That certainly was a big vote in the House. We need to look at the details" (New York Times, 3/26).