The Senate Finance Committee defeated two Republican-inked amendments that would have strengthened abortion language in a sweeping health reform bill and knocked down a measure that would have required photo verification for entrance into the Medicaid program.
Committee wrestles abortion, citizenship issues
The committee waded into the thorny issues of abortion and citizenship during its sixth day in the amendment process. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a senior member of the committee, offered back-to-back amendments that would have locked in legislative language prohibiting federal dollars from going to abortion services and tightening the conscience clause for providers.
Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said early on that he wants the bill to keep current law in effect, adding that his legislative package preserves measures that restrict federal dollars. “This is a healthcare bill, not an abortion bill,” Baucus said. “We are not changing current law.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) offered the amendment that would require a photo ID when applying for Medicaid benefits. Currently, applicants can choose from a list of identifiers, including a Social Security number or a birth certificate. “A stolen credit report has more than enough for a person to skirt current citizenship requirements,” Grassley said.
Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota was the only Democrat to vote in favor of both amendments, and Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine was the only Republican to vote against them on what was an otherwise party line vote.
But Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said that such a measure would add another roadblock for coverage to an already needy population. “This creates a new barrier of coverage for everyone,” he said.
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