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New Transparency Rule Proposed for Obamacare Abortion Surcharge

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Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed rule aimed at increasing transparency surrounding the hidden abortion surcharge in many Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans purchased on the state and federal exchanges. The rule has a 60-day comment period and will close on January 8, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. EST. This rule contains two other measures, but we are only concerned with this particular part of the rule.

We need your help to submit comments supporting this transparency rule. Please visit ConcernedWomen.Org/ObamacareTransparencytoday to learn more, read a sample comment, and submit your comment to the Department of Health and Human Services!

Section 1303 of the ACA requires insurance companies to keep abortion-related services separate from the rest of healthcare funds. Abortion-related services are to be collected via a separate payment and kept in a separate fund — at least $1 per enrollee, per month.  When the law was passed, President Obama issued guidance saying “separate” payments could be collected “together” and then failed to enforce the law as written.  This means that taxpayer dollars, through subsidies and cost-sharing reduction payments, are currently co-mingled with funds that pay for elective abortions.

Although Congress will have to intervene and permanently fix the problem of taxpayer dollars co-mingling with abortion funds, HHS can do its part by enforcing the law. The proposed rule better aligns with the letter of the law and requires that the abortion surcharge be collected separately from insurance premiums.

The proposed rule says that qualified health insurance providers must send an “entirely separate monthly bill” and “instruct the policy subscriber to pay the portion of the premium in a separate transaction.” This means separate bills must be mailed or transacted online in entirely separate emails. The proposed rule is the best interpretation and intent of the law and will incorporate a necessary transparency measure that will not only ideally separate taxpayer dollars from elective abortions but will allow policyholders to see that they have been forced to subsidize abortion whether they want to or not.

The transparency rule is not a done deal. HHS must review and consider public comments before issuing a final ruling.  New rules will apply to insurance plans from the year 2020 forward. It is crucial that HHS upholds the law and carries out this transparency rule. Please visit ConcernedWomen.org/ObamacareTransparencytoday for a sample comment and more information on how to make a difference.

Congress Passes Sexual Harassment Bill – American People Still Need Answers

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Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, both the House and Senate passed, by unanimous consent, legislation amending the process for handling sexual harassment claims on Capitol Hill.  The legislation now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature. The bill does not require reimbursement of federal hush funds from the last two decades and does not disclose the identities of members of Congress who utilized this hush fund in the past.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, the largest public policy organization for women in the nation, had this to say:

“It has been over a year since the #MeToo revolution erupted, and it is high time that Congress deal with this issue on its own turf.  Our representatives have finally come to terms with changes for which 1,500 staff members and countless citizens have asked.

“Finally, in the eleventh hour and during a lame duck session, things have begun to move along.  However, there is more work to be done.

“Even with the passage of this bill, the American people are still denied full disclosure of who engages in sexual harassment in Congress.  No one is exposed for these deeds.  None of the $15 million worth of taxpayer money to settle claims in the past is returned to the Treasury.  No one is held accountable for reimbursing these hush funds.  Where is the transparency?

“Concerned Women for America continues to ask likely incoming-Speaker Pelosi to move immediately to disclose the names of every member of Congress who used the fund. This is not an issue we expect our elected officials to handle with kid gloves. The American people deserve to know. Congress works for us – not the other way around.”

 

For an interview with Penny Nance, contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

If Nancy Pelosi doesn’t punish past congressional sexual abuse, she’ll lose credibility

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Likely incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with President Trump this morning and issues such as immigration and infrastructure, among others will be up for discussion. But when she takes the gavel next month there will be only one priority for her, and if she whiffs on it her speakership will lose authority and credibility for the rest of her term.

Literally a year ago — as the #MeToo era was erupting — the nation was waking up to news that a secret congressional “hush fund” had been used by Members of Congress to pay off accusers of sexual misconduct. Taxpayer money — yours and mine — was used to pay off these alleged victims.

Many members of Congress, in both parties, pontificated and expressed outrage. Congressman Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., introduced a bill that called for publicizing the names of those who used the hush fund to pay for these so-called “settlements.” Many in both parties co-sponsored his bill but it went nowhere and now DeSantis is gone, about to become the next governor of Florida.

Such inaction is a stain on outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan’s legacy. If incoming Speaker Pelosi does the same, it could ruin her.

If Pelosi doesn’t move immediately to disclose the names of those in Congress who used this hush fund, she will be part of the biggest sexual misconduct scandal in history. Nobody knows how many congressman and Senators are involved, and if she is a willing participant to keep all of this a secret she will forfeit credibility on every other issue.

What we know already is devastating. We know congressmen John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Blake Fahrentold (R-Tex.) used this “hush fund” to settle with alleged victims. Both men have already left Congress.

Pelosi has been as outspoken as any leader in the Democratic Party, as any feminist leader and as any celebrity when it comes protecting women from male predators. She will now have the power to take meaningful and lasting action but she said nothing about the issue during the last few months of the campaign, and has said nothing about it since the election.

Nor have we heard a word from any of the newly elected incoming Democratic freshman congressional class — many of whom are women — since the election. The same goes for the women leaders who plan to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

So far all we’ve heard and seen from congressional leaders in both parties has been lip service about training going forward. The truth is what will actually put a stop to male predators in Congress will be publicizing the names of those for whom the public paid to protect.

A woman Speaker, and her party by extension, cannot be part of an old boys club/incumbent protection scandal.

A woman Speaker who continues to sweep this scandal under the rug, and her party by extension — the party of which she’s has been a leader for many years — would render themselves a disgrace in the eyes of the American people.


A version of this oped was published by USA Today. 

 

SCOTUS Cowers Under Political Pressure, Again

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Washington, D.C. — The United States Supreme Court has denied cert. in Gee v. Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast, et al.
Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, the largest public policy organization for women in the nation, had this to say:
“It is disappointing to see the United States Supreme Court cower under political pressure. Once again the justices confirm what former Justice Kennedy had admitted in Carhart: big abortion gets special treatment at the nation’s highest court.
“In dissent, Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch make plain that, ‘what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here … has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named “Planned Parenthood.”‘ What a shame!
“Worse yet this case is decidedly not about abortion. The question is whether individuals have a private right of action under the Medicaid Act. The reason Planned Parenthood is involved at all is because some states moved to disqualify them after they were caught on tape illegally, unethically, and immorally bargaining with baby body parts.

“Fortunately, this is not the end of the road for this issue. The Court will be forced to decide the matter sooner or later. The bigger challenge they face is the public’s growing concern with their failure to neutrally apply the law without regards to political pressure. Here, they have clearly failed, again.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) Holding Up U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act

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Washington, D.C. – The United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 seeks to ensure Israel’s sovereignty and safety by bolstering its security against growing threats. Primary among these threats is Iran’s presence on Israel’s northern border. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) introduced an amendment to the act which cut all of Israel’s security assistance. This undermines the purpose of the bill, and his amendment was voted down 20-1. Yet Sen. Paul continues to be the only member of Congress withholding support for the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act and has kept it from receiving a vote on the Senate floor for over a month now.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, issued the following statement in response:

“Sen. Paul’s singular refusal to support Israel by not allowing a vote on this bill is disappointing and detrimental to the state of Israel and to United States foreign policy.

“Israel is one of our greatest allies in the world and a vital beacon of democracy in the Middle East. They are under almost constant threat from surrounding countries, and the assistance provided by the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act is absolutely necessary to best equip Israel’s military to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens and the sovereignty of their state.

“Sen. Paul is singling out Israel by standing in the way of this bill. Targeting Israel in this way emboldens Israel’s enemies — entities like Iran who would love nothing more than to see separation between our nations. In many ways, a strong Israel is also a strong United States. There is nothing to be gained by blocking this bill, but there is much to be lost. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee urges Sen. Paul to cease being the barrier to a vote on this bill.”

CWA Engaged to End Unethical Fetal Tissue Research

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Concerned Women for America is actively engaged in the effort to end unethical fetal tissue research. We are working with Congress to stop funding of this gruesome practice and are asking the Trump Administration to change policy. Some fetal tissue contracts were made by the Obama Administration and cannot be rescinded, but the Trump Administration can decline to renew them.

In September the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a contract with Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) for fetal tissue use in select research. Aside from the unethical nature of this research, taxpayer dollars should not be funding any sort of contract between the U.S. Government and ABR because ABR is still under federal investigation for illegal profiting from the sale of aborted fetal tissue.  After backlash from the pro-life community, the FDA announced a termination of the ABR contract, and Health and Human Services (HHS) promised an internal review of fetal tissue research policies.

Last week stemming from a report that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding fetal tissue research to the tune of $103 million annually, 74 Members of Congress, led by pro-life champions Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and Vicki Hartzler (R-Missouri), sent a letter to HHS Secretary Azar asking for a moratorium on fetal tissue research in exchange for ethical research alternatives that, unlike fetal tissue research, are showing promise and producing results.  It is unconscionable that NIH research uses the organs of unborn children from elective abortions at 17-24 weeks gestation.

This week a seven-year fetal tissue contract between HHS and the University of California at San Francisco expired.  Instead of the expected long-term renewal, the contract was only renewed for 90 days. While this is a big step in the right direction, a pro-life administration should not be funding unethical, anti-life research. Fetal tissue research is the scientific version of the famed Alaska “bridge to nowhere[1]” and is a waste of taxpayer money.

Fetal tissue research is not groundbreaking or cutting edge; it began in the 1920s and has yet to produce positive results. In 2001 the first NIH-funded clinical trial using fetal tissue to treat patients with Parkinson’s was described as “absolutely devastating,” “tragic, catastrophic” and “a real nightmare” as the experimental introduction of fetal tissue worsenedthe patients’ symptoms.[2]This is just one example of several clinical trials, completed in the U.S. and abroad, where fetal tissue did not produce promising results. Instead, fetal tissue intervention often proved detrimental.

These catastrophic and devastating results are not exclusive to fetal tissue, but also to the use of fetal stem cells[3]. In 2009 a young boy developed spinal tumors after being injected with fetal stem cells[4]. There are promising research avenues, such as adult stem cell therapies, the use of cord blood, and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

Science is moving away from fetal tissue experimentation because it has failed to produce any significant scientific gains. The U.S. government should be funding promising research not dead-end projects that are outmoded and unethical.

[1]https://www.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/report/the-bridge-nowhere-national-embarrassment

[2]https://s27589.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Prentice-writtentestimony-AZ-House-Judiciary-fetal-tissue-trafficking.pdf

[3]https://s27589.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Prentice-writtentestimony-AZ-House-Judiciary-fetal-tissue-trafficking.pdf

[4]http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7894486.stm

President Trump to Nominate Heather Nauert as UN Ambassador

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Washington, D.C. — President Trump has announced Heather Nauert, a current U.S. State Department spokesperson, as his choice for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, issued this response:

“Concerned Women for America members from around the nation applaud President Trump for his appointment of Heather Nauert as UN Ambassador.  Ms. Nauert’s years of experience, both as a news correspondent and more recently as the U.S. State Department spokesperson, have prepared her to effectively represent our nation.

“Nauert is a strong supporter of the president’s agenda and, like her predecessor, will courageously and firmly pursue our national interests.  Concerned Women for America members look forward to enthusiastically supporting her confirmation.”

 

For an interview with Penny Nance, contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

Background on Abortion and Obamacare

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare was, and continues to be, a disaster on several fronts. Not only has the cost of insurance skyrocketed and the quality of care declined, but there are legitimate concerns over abortion funding in tax-dollar subsidized plans. The ACA is not subject to the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of elective abortions, because it “self-appropriates” and was intentionally drafted to sidestep Hyde.

The Hyde Amendment was first introduced by Rep. Henry Hyde over 40 years ago and has been estimated to have saved over two million lives. However, the Hyde Amendment is not government-wide. It is adopted every year through the appropriations process and only applies to certain authorizations outside of the appropriations process, such as the Child Health Insurance Program. As noted above, Hyde does not apply to the ACA.

In 2009, the Democrat-controlled House was drafting early versions of the ACA. During markup in the Energy and Commerce Committee, Reps. Stupak (D-Michigan) and Pitts (R-Pennsylvania) offered three pro-life amendments based on the principle that abortion is not health care. All amendments were defeated and, instead, a measure by Rep. Capps (D-California) was adopted which allowed the funding of abortion-covering plans using an accounting gimmick. This amendment made it into a final version of the ACA that was put on the House floor, but Stupak and a coalition of pro-life Democrats refused to vote for the rule until they received a vote on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. This amendment prohibited abortion funding in a government insurance program and prohibited federal subsidies for insurance plans that covered abortion. The amendment passed 240-194, and the House passed H.R. 3962.

Senate draft versions of the ACA contained Capps-like language. Sens. Hatch (R-Utah) and Nelson (D-Nebraska) offered an amendment similar to Stupak-Pitts that was tabled by the Senate. Instead, the Senate made hollow changes to the Capps language regarding “separate” payments to secure the vote of Sen. Nelson. The accounting gimmick would allocate a portion of an individual’s premium for elective abortion funding. In a Senate floor speech, Sen. Nelson explained this would include separate checks, a fact the Obama Administration completely ignored.

The special election of Sen. Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) cost the Democrats their supermajority in the Senate, which complicated things. Senate Democrats voted for the ACA on Christmas Eve, but that bill was never supposed to be final; the differences between that bill and the House bill were to be worked out in conference. House Democrats were forced to pass the Senate version with minor changes that wouldn’t require Senate approval, plus a reconciliation bill (which only requires simple majority in the Senate to pass) to make fixes to the Senate bill, but Rep. Stupak continued to publicly oppose the Senate language. Ultimately, Rep. Stupak conceded and voted for the bill in exchange for an executive order (EO). The House passed the bill, and it was signed into law on March 23, 2010, and the promised EO, that merely reiterated the Capps principles and, therefore, was completely worthless, was issued on March 24.

The law, section 1303 of the ACA, requires abortion-related services to be collected via a separate payment, which must be at least $1 per enrollee per month, to be collected and kept in a separate fund. However, enforcement was left up to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and President Obama issued guidance that said separate payments could be collected together. Seriously. This means that taxpayer dollars through subsidies and cost-sharing reduction payments are co-mingled with funds that pay for elective abortions.

How the Republican minority House members can still have influence

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Now that (most) of the election dust has settled, members have met their new colleagues, chosen their party leadership, and everyone is in the process of preparing for next year. On January 3, the largest Freshman (new members) class since WWII will be sworn into office. About 75% of House Republicans have never been in the minority and, inversely, about 65% of House Democrats have never served in the majority.

Come January 3, the House of Representatives will be very hostile to conservative issues, especially the life issue. The last time Democrats controlled the House there were about 40 pro-life Democrats who consistently voted pro-life, now there are 2. During this last election cycle, Democrat party leaders told candidates they were not welcome in the party if they were pro-life, because, as Penny says, “abortion is their religion.”

However, there are ways that members of the minority party can have influence outside of voting “no.” A motion to recommit (MTR) with instructions returns a bill to committee and can amend, or possibly kill, legislation. The MTR is a power held exclusively by the minority and can make things uncomfortable for moderate majority members who may oppose the bill or parts of the bill based on their districts. At a bare minimum, a MTR takes up legislative time. Democrats have said they do not plan on holding votes before 1:00 p.m. or after 7:00 p.m. in order to accommodate members with families, so time allotted for votes will be precious.

Floor speeches are also great ways for the minority party to message for or against something. One-minute speeches might not seem like much, but they are televised by C-SPAN, which can have an audience of 1 million typically engaged, voting citizens at any given time. For those issues that have bipartisan support but not leadership support, a discharge petition can be used to force legislation out of committee and put it on the floor. While it requires the majority of the House (218 members) and is rarely successful, it can be used for political pressure. In 2015, a discharge petition caused a major headache for Speaker Boehner over an immigration issue. Minority members can pick apart the majority’s position in minority committee reports. These reports officially state a position counter to the majority and can be written by one or more minority members of the committee.

These are all ways to draw attention to the stark contrast of the positions on the opposite side of the aisle and can make things uncomfortable for the majority, who is usually fighting to keep their caucus together on controversial issues. But ultimately, a divided government forces us to find common ground and work together.

We do know that the Democrats are drooling over getting rid of pro-life protections, and, thankfully, the Senate will serve as a backstop to make sure we don’t lose gains on that front. While the President can veto bills with concerning language, and we are encouraging him to do so, a pro-life Senate is an added layer of security. With the net gain of 2 pro-life Senate seats, we finally have a pro-life majority in the Senate. Although Senators Collins (R-Maine) and Murkowski (R-Alaska) are Republicans, they are not pro-life and usually vote against pro-life measures. With next year’s Senate makeup, we can lose Sens. Collins and Murkowski on a life issue and still win. This will be crucial during the Appropriations (spending) process, where many of our pro-life gains have been accomplished.

While things in the next Congress will be different, there is always hope, and there is always progress to be made. Like Justice Kavanaugh said during his opening statement, “I live on the sunrise side of the mountain, not the sunset side of the mountain. I see the day that is coming, not the day that is gone. I am optimistic about the future of America …”

 

 

 

 

 

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith Wins Historic Mississippi Election

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Washington, D.C. — Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith won Mississippi’s runoff election, defeated Democrat challenger Mike Espy for Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seat.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, issued this response:

 “I would like to whole-heartedly congratulate Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith on her historic election.  As the first woman elected to Congress from the great state of Mississippi, she inspires a new generation of conservative women.  Concerned Women for America LAC was proud to endorse her and urge our members in Mississippi to simply vote their values.  Our members around the nation prayed for her and will continue to do so as she continues the hard work of representative government.  We are excited to work alongside her on key issues like the protection of  life and religious freedom here and around the world and to stand firm for the nation of Israel.

“In all the media chatter regarding the ‘year of the woman,’ many neglect to notice that women are not monolithic and a large number embrace conservative values, especially the dignity and sanctity of human life.  The historic elections this year of Cindy Hyde-Smith and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) to the U.S. Senate and Governors Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota) and Kimberly Reynolds (R-Iowa) strongly counter that narrative. Conservative women applaud their election not simply based on gender but based on their support of our principles.”

 


For an interview with Penny Nance, contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.