WASHINGTON, D.C., September 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – On September 13, four Republican senators unveiled a new Obamacare replacement bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, could allow states to opt out of the HHS contraceptive mandate, and stops Obamacare’s funding of abortion.
Senate rules give them just over two weeks to pass it with a simple majority.
The four senators who introduced the bill were Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin.
Pro-life former Sen. Rick Santorum accompanied the senators as they announced the bill.
In April 2017, Heller told constituents he’d “protect Planned Parenthood” but then backtracked from those comments.
Heller was one of seven Republicans who voted “no” on a straight repeal of Obamacare that would have defunded Planned Parenthood as well.
In the early morning hours of July 28, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, cast the deciding “no” vote on a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare that also defunded Planned Parenthood, which commits more than 300,000 abortions annually.
McCain’s move, which Democrats celebrated, was surprising especially because the senator, who has cancer, flew back to Washington to cast a “yes” vote to allow debate and voting to proceed on the “skinny repeal” bill.
The new “Cassidy-Graham bill” creates block grants for states to establish their own healthcare systems.
“The grant dollars would replace the federal money currently being spent on Medicaid Expansion, Obamacare tax credits, cost-sharing reduction subsidies and the basic health plan dollars,” Cassidy’s website explains. “The proposal gives states the resources and regulatory flexibility to innovate and create healthcare systems that lower premiums and expand coverage.”
“Four states get 37 percent of Obamacare dollars,” Cassidy’s FAQ about the bill says. “Support should be equal across the nation.”
The bill ends Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates and medical device tax.
It allows states to obtain waivers of “any provision that requires a health insurance issuer offering a coverage plan in the individual or small group market to ensure that certain benefits are included in such coverage.”
If Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price interprets the Obama administration’s coercive contraceptive mandate as a “benefit mandate,” then it’s possible this bill could allow states to opt out of it.
“I commend Senators Graham and Cassidy on introducing a pro-life bill to replace the disaster that is Obamacare,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “This bill does the right thing by defunding Planned Parenthood and directing funding towards Federally Qualified Health Centers.”
“Planned Parenthood has lied to the American public, committed fraud with taxpayer dollars, and has been proven to sell the body parts of babies they abort for profit,” Hawkins continued. “Yet Congress has continually failed to defund Planned Parenthood, despite having a pro-life Congress and President.”
Because of existing pro-life law, the state grants wouldn’t allow funding for abortions except in case of rape, incest, and threats to the life of the mother.
The bill also doesn’t fund health insurance plans that cover abortions.
The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) praised Graham and Cassidy for introducing the bill and said they’re closely examining its pro-life language.
“It is extremely encouraging to see pro-life senators led by Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy offering new ideas and solutions to enact a healthcare reform reconciliation bill for FY17,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “SBA List will need time to review the language carefully to ensure that it will roll back taxpayer funding of abortion under Obamacare and redirect abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s tax funding to community health centers.”
The same day Cassidy and Graham introduced their bill, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, introduced a single-payer healthcare bill. At least five Democrats are co-sponsoring it with him.