THE COMPROMISE THAT SECURED NELSON’S SUPPORT…. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) fought for the Stupak language to be added to the Senate bill. There was no way Senate Dems would go for this, and they didn’t. But with limited ways to thread the needle, a compromise remained elusive.
That is, until last night, when Sens. Nelson, Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) worked something out. Here’s what they agreed to:
…Reid included a provision that allows states to prohibit abortion coverage in the insurance exchanges the bill creates. It’s basically a state opt-out, which largely allows Democrats to sidestep the tricky issue by dumping it on the states.
The amendment also requires that health plans that provide abortion services segregate the premiums from any federal money so that federal funds don’t pay for abortion services. Similar proposals have come under fire from pro-life groups who call the maneuver a shell game. They argue that because the insurance plans offered through the exchange are eligible for federal subsidies, taxpayer money is still paying for the coverage of abortion.
And while it still might not satisfy pro-life groups, the important point for Democrats today is that it wins Nelson’s vote, which they need to pass a bill.
Sens. Boxer and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), both of whom are strong pro-choice lawmakers, endorsed the deal.
“We said all along that we wanted to ensure there was a firewall between private and public funds — this compromise achieves that.
“We said we would not accept language that prohibited a woman from using her own private funds for her legal reproductive health care — this compromise meets that test.
“And we said we would stop Stupak — which we did. Let’s be clear — we were both much happier with the Capps language and the language in the underlying bill. But compromise was necessary to get a health care bill for the American people, and this compromise achieves that.”
Nelson, not surprisingly, said if the House-Senate conference interferes with his deal, he’ll join a GOP filibuster on the final approval vote.