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Letter to Ted Strickland, Governor of Ohio - High-Risk Pool Health Plans

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

In light of recent reports detailing plans by several states to use high-risk pool health plans funded by federal taxpayer dollars under President Obama's health care law to offer abortion services, Ohio House GOP members today urged Governor Ted Strickland (D) to assure Ohioans that the final plan to be submitted by the State of Ohio will not include elective abortion as a covered benefit.

In a letter, Reps. John Boehner (R-West Chester), Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge), Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Township), Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland), Michael Turner (R-Centerville), Jim Jordan (R-Urbana), Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) and Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) expressed concern over reports that several states have submitted -- and the Obama administration initially approved -- plans to create taxpayer-funded high-risk pool health plans under ObamaCare that would cover elective abortions. The Obama administration has since backpedaled and said it will not approve such state plans. But given the mixed messages sent last week by the Administration and significant public opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion, the Ohio legislators are seeking assurances from Gov. Strickland that Ohio's own plan -- which has not yet been finalized, according to state officials -- will not include elective abortion as benefit.

"Ohioans were misled by the Obama Administration about the cost of the President's health care legislation, and they cannot be misled again when it comes to this unconscionable use of taxpayer dollars," the representatives write. "Your voice as Governor is needed to help ensure that not a dime of the $152 million in federal funds Ohio is set to receive for its high-risk pool plan goes toward covering abortions. We ask that you assure Ohioans that Ohio will not seek to use funds from the President's health care law to fund abortions."

Following is the text of the letter to Gov. Strickland.

July 19, 2010
The Honorable Ted Strickland
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6108

Dear Governor Strickland:

We write to you today to express our concern over revelations that the Obama Administration has, as part of its implementation of President Obama's controversial health overhaul, approved in at least two states the creation of federally-funded "high-risk" pool health plans that would cover elective abortion as a medical benefit. We ask that you assure the people of Ohio that our state will not seek to implement such a plan, and urge you to exercise your authority as Governor to ensure that no taxpayer funds are used to cover elective abortions in Ohio.

Over the past week we have grown increasingly concerned by reports detailing state plans to use high-risk pools funded by federal taxpayer dollars under President Obama's health care law to offer abortion services. According to the Associated Press, the state of New Mexico planned to cover elective abortion services under its high-risk pool plan and had been advertising those benefits to enrollees since at least July 1, with the apparent consent of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Maryland and Pennsylvania also reportedly submitted similar plans. Our understanding is that Ohio has not yet submitted a final plan to the federal government.

Allowing a state high-risk pool to fund abortions would stand in direct contradiction of longstanding U.S. policy prohibiting federal funding of abortion or abortion coverage. Unfortunately, statutory language prohibiting such funding was not included in the health care overhaul signed into law by President Obama. Such language was stripped out of the final bill by Democratic congressional leaders, and the President instead signed an Executive Order that the White House claimed would eliminate the need for statutory language prohibiting federal funding of abortion through the health care law. However, more than three months after the law was signed, the Administration has not issued formal guidance to the states or answered congressional request for information on how the Executive Order will be implemented, even despite repeated requests made of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and a direct request made to President Obama himself during a recent White House meeting.

In light of these disturbing developments, we are urging you to assure Ohioans that the final plan our state will submit to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will not include elective abortion as a taxpayer-funded benefit. Furthermore we respectfully request that you direct the Ohio Department of Insurance to thoroughly review its negotiations with the third-party provider your administration designated to run Ohio's high-risk pool plan to ensure that the use of federal funds to perform abortions is clearly and definitively prohibited under any coverage.

Ohioans were misled by the Obama Administration about the cost of the President's health care legislation, and they cannot be misled again when it comes to this unconscionable use of taxpayer dollars. Your voice as Governor is needed to help ensure that not a dime of the $152 million in federal funds Ohio is set to receive for its high-risk pool plan goes toward covering abortions. We ask that you assure Ohioans that Ohio will not seek to use funds from the President's health care law to fund abortions.

Sincerely,

John A. Boehner
United States Representative

Steven C. LaTourette
United States Representative

Patrick J. Tiberi
United States Representative

Jean Schmidt
United States Representative

Michael R. Turner
United States Representative

Jim Jordan
United States Representative

Robert E. Latta
United States Representative

Steve Austria
United States Representative


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