Related to the Health and Human Services mandate to provide—and so to buy—contraception and abortion health insurance coverage at no cost to the “purchaser” is another final rule from HHS that requires those plans that cover abortion to collect a separate fee of $1 or more directly from the policy customers, with the money collected being used for abortion coverage. The administration’s claim is that doing it this way means that abortions are not subsidized with taxpayer subsidies.
Congressman Chris Smith (R, NJ) correctly observes,
Requiring the segregation of funds into allocation accounts—a mere bookkeeping exercise, is a cheap political trick designed to circumvent longstanding prohibitions on taxpayer funding of abortion.
Moreover, as Smith also notes, the rule pushes insurance companies obscure information about the surcharge in their benefits materials, so that customers are not readily able to discriminate among policies that do and do not cover abortions. We’re all still subsidizing abortions, which violates the consciences and religious teachings of many of us.
With regard to the government as middleman denial, we’re all taxpayers—at least those of us who work and so must buy these policies and this coverage under that other HHS rule. The idea that the Federal government isn’t acting as middleman in the collection and transfer of the funds doesn’t alter at all the fact that it is us taxpayers’ money that’s being used to subsidize abortion coverage. But the premise that government isn’t middleman in this set of transactions is itself fictitious: it’s government that’s mandating the funds transfer; it is the necessary middleman here.
Finally, the dishonesty of this bookkeeping separation of the money is easily illustrated with a thought experiment. Imagine a woman who has, in her mind, three needs: pay the rent, buy food, and get an abortion. Imagine further that each of these items costs $1 and that the woman has only $2 to her name. Now imagine a government man approaches the woman and says to her, “Here’s $1. The only string attached is that you may not use this dollar to get an abortion.” With the $3 the woman now has, she goes out and gets all three: she pays the rent, buys food, and get the abortion. Prove the taxpayers’ dollar, which the government man gave the woman, was not used to get the abortion, when without that third dollar, she could not get all three, and with it, she actually did get all three. That third dollar made it possible.