Sen. Nelson Caves In to Democratic Party Pressure on Health Care

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), the last hope of pro-life forces, has caved in to Democratic Party and White House pressure to support the Senate Health Care Bill.

He indicated today he would support the bill based upon the “manager’s amendment” containing the so-called “compromise” language on abortion funding negotiated by Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), the son of the legendary pro-life, Catholic governor of Pennsylvania, Bob Casey.

Casey’s language, now approved by Nelson, makes federal funding for abortion the default position of health care reform.  The Washington Post describes the compromise as follows:

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Under the new abortion provisions, states can opt out of allowing plans to cover abortion in insurance exchanges the bill would set up to serve individuals who don’t have employer coverage. Plus, enrollees in plans that do cover abortion procedures would pay for the coverage with separate checks – one for abortion, one for the remainder of health-care services.

The notion of “segregated funds,” of course, is nothing but an auditor’s trick.  Once dollars become part of a program they support the whole of the program, regardless in which column they are found.  As Family Research Council’s Tom McClusky said to in response to the new compromise, “Reid’s bill would force taxpayers to pay for abortions even if they opt out.”

The fight over federal funding for abortion will now move back to the House where 62 Democrats voted for the Stupak-Pitts amendment — it remains to be seen how many of those Democrats will follow in the footsteps of Sen. Ben Nelson.

Once again the bright light will fall on Cong. Bart Stupak (D-MI) who stood up against immense pressure last month to get his amendment passed.

The Washington Post also reports Nelson’s decision was based, in part, on financial considerations.

Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He was also able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.

Deacon Keith Fournier describes this as Nelson’s “bag of silver.”  Fournier explains, “If Senator Ben Nelson actually sold his vote for a bag of silver for Nebraska then this has become a ‘Judas moment’ not a ‘Thomas More moment’ and its implications are evil.”

This final bill will not contain the “public option” per se, but it will impose strict government control of the health insurance industry:

Instead of a public option, the final product would allow private firms for the first time to offer national insurance policies to all Americans, outside the jurisdiction of state regulations. Those plans would be negotiated through the Office of Personnel Management, the same agency that handles health coverage for federal workers and members of Congress.

Starting immediately, insurers would be prohibited from denying children coverage for pre-existing conditions. A complete ban on the practice would take effect in 2014, when the legislation seeks to create a network of state-based insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, where people who lack access to affordable coverage through an insurer can purchase policies.

Insurers competing in the exchanges would be required to justify rate increases, and those who jacked up prices unduly could be barred from the exchange. Reid’s package would also give patients the right to appeal to an independent board if an insurer denies a medical claim. And all insurance companies would be required to spend at least 80 cents of every dollar they collect in premiums on delivering care to their customers.

It may not be a public option, but with insurance companies so tightly regulated the plan becomes, in my opinion, virtually government run health care.

Once the Senate bill passes the cloture vote it will go to conference where the final bill will be prepared for another vote in the House and the Senate. 

What other “bags of silver” will be offered to the House Democrats who voted for Stupak-Pitts to accept the Casey language?  We will see, but the coming of Christmas should be a stark and powerful reminder to all members of Congress of what is at stake.


  • Deal W. Hudson

    Deal W. Hudson is ​publisher and editor of The Christian Review and the host of “Church and Culture,” a weekly two-hour radio show on the Ave Maria Radio Network.​ He is the former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.

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