Today, House of Representatives is expected to pass HR3, which would, among other provisions, penalize private insurers who cover abortion. House Republicans are expected to try to force a vote in the Senate, though unless they find some backdoor way to attach it to something, it's unlikely to pass there.
Meanwhile, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has declared that he will sign a bill denying Medicaid recipients the right to seek care at Planned Parenthood. When it comes to anti-choice politics, it's a whole new world.
"This is definitely breaking new ground for federal funding abortion bans," Julie Rovner of NPR just said on C-SPAN of HR3. "I have never seen a situation quite this," professor George Washington University law professor Sara Rosenbaum told the Los Angeles Times of Indiana's ban. Along with the failed attempt to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding, this is yet another new frontier in the abortion wars — which manages to hurt women's access to medical care more than it's expected to move the needle on abortion.
The Hyde Amendment already prevents federal funding, including Medicaid except in extremely limited circumstances, from paying for abortions. In the case of Indiana and the other states that are considering emulating it, the new law breaks the cooperation between federal Medicaid and the state administration of the funds, and the federal government has been pretty unequivocal about it:
"If the state denies payment to these providers, that would be illegal," said Mary Kahn, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the U.S. agency that administers the two huge healthcare programs."
Indiana has 28 Planned Parenthood clinics. Four of them offer abortions. None of those abortions are paid for by federal dollars, but anti-choicers argue that the organization — and, of course, its patients — must be punished for also providing abortions and that receiving Medicaid funds for routine women's health services constitutes a subsidy. (Planned Parenthood is seeking an injunction against the law).
HR3, the so-called "No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act," is its own innovation. Republicans say it would merely codify the Hyde Amendment, but that only applied to direct federal funding. This would punish private insurers from covering abortion by denying them the tax subsidies other medical coverage receives, as well as likely involve the IRS in audits of whether a woman who had an abortion was in compliance. Democrats on the floor today pointed out that this would put a burden on small businesses that have no idea whether their health insurance plans cover abortion and would now have to make a choice based on that. Republicans: All about facilitating individual choices and preventing government regulation of business decisions!
By the way, just because the Pence amendment defunding Planned Parenthood didn't make it into the final budget earlier this year, doesn't mean that battle is over. The anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony Group recently hired its first-ever lobbyist to keep the pressure on the federal government to defund Planned Parenthood.