How can a government claim to derive its powers “from the consent of the governed” when it deliberately deceives the people whose consent it supposedly requires? The case of a Connecticut family forced to pay a fee to be used to fund others’ elective surgical abortions or face fines under Obamacare is the latest demonstration that the law is a Rube Goldberg machine of impenetrable statutory language designed to confuse.
Barth and Abbie Bracy are pro-life Catholics living in Connecticut with their four children. Last fall, like millions of Americans, the family was informed that their health insurance plan was being cancelled “due to requirements of the Affordable Care Act.” But Good News! If they wanted to avoid thousands of dollars in fines over the next few years and provide for their family’s healthcare they could just purchase a plan on the Connecticut exchange – the vaunted model of how an Obamacare exchange is supposed to function. But when the Bracy family investigated their options they couldn’t find any plan that didn’t both cover elective abortions and require a surcharge solely for that purpose.
As Executive Director of Rhode Island Right to Life, Barth has long warned that some exchanges may offer no plans without elective abortion and that Obamacare secrecy clauses forbid insurers or exchanges from telling customers the truth. Now it is personal.
There are no known abortion free plans on the Connecticut exchange. For the Bracys and every other consumer buying plans in Connecticut, this means that in order to buy an Obamacare-compliant exchange plan they will be required to pay a separate surcharge that the insurer must use solely to pay for abortions. There are indications that people seeking coverage on the exchanges in Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wyoming may face the same dilemma. And every exchange (and insurer) is forbidden to answer the very basic questions of many prospective customers: (1) Does this plan cover abortion? And (2) How much would I be paying for others’ abortions?
The abortion surcharge is the centerpiece of Obamacare defenders’ claims that the law doesn’t allow taxpayer funding of abortion. While federal subsidies offset the cost for much of the premiums for many Obamacare plans, the insurer must calculate the actuarial value of abortion in the plan and charge a separate surcharge to the insured. That abortion surcharge must be kept in a separate account and used exclusively to pay for abortions. However, the insurer is prohibited from ever disclosing how much the abortion surcharge is. They separate it out behind the curtain, but the customer whose money it is cannot be told how much of their premium goes into the abortion account and how much pays for everything else they actually want coverage for.
And all of that deception comes after the exchange and the insurers are prohibited by law from telling a customer up front whether the plan even includes abortion at all.
It has been a successful deception. When Dr. James Dobson recently warned about abortion surcharges he was told by a Fox News interviewer “that didn’t become law.” The confusion is understandable. Even Supreme Court Justices and the Solicitor General have spoken about the possibility of compelled surgical abortion funding as a hypothetical under Obamacare instead of the current reality that it is.
What could possibly be the purpose of such an intentionally confusing morass?
Obamacare would not be law today if subsidies directly paid for elective surgical abortions. Americans overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of elective abortion. So instead, the law required that anyone with a plan that includes abortion must pay a special surcharge to be used to pay for abortions. But knowing that not only pro-lifers but even others who simply don’t plan to have an abortion wouldn’t willingly pick a plan charging this surcharge over plans without this extra fee, Obamacare’s architects, including the abortionists themselves, wanted it all kept secret.
But while abortionists will profit, consumers on both sides of the abortion debate are hurt. Both women looking for an abortion-covering plan and pro-lifers looking to avoid paying for those same abortions are denied the information they seek. The Guttmacher Institute and NPR have both highlighted this problem from the perspective of women looking for abortion plans.
But our “leaders” have decided to keep us in the dark for our greater good. Nancy Pelosi famously said of Obamacare that we had to “pass it to find out what’s in it.” She has been rightly pilloried for such a distorted view of how lawmaking is supposed to work. But it turns out that wasn’t even honest.
Pelosi’s intent was a promise that there would be time for detailed reading of the enormous bill after it passed. But that’s cold comfort when the law is crafted specifically to ensure that we do NOT find out what’s in it.
Like so many other aspects of the law, the abortion surcharge for Obamacare exchange plans and the related secrecy provisions are like a shell game in which fundamental freedoms are the hidden ball.
Casey Mattox is senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom. Mattox represents the Bracy family in its federal lawsuit against the Obama Administration.