Federal Legislation
May 18, 2010

H.R. 3200—“America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009”

H.R. 3200, passed in committee and was supposed to come up for consideration on the floor of the U.S. House. However, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, decided to draft her own healthcare bill—H.R. 3962. H.R. 3962 passed by the House 220–215 on November 7 and then sent to the Senate for a vote. The Senate did not pick up H.R. 3962, but instead Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, substituted his own health care bill into H.R. 3590, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010. To read about H.R. 3590 please visit our analysis of the Senate “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Summary:
H.R. 3200 is President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform bill. While the United States has one of the best systems of private health care in the world, no one would disagree that reforms are needed. Unfortunately, H.R. 3200 has numerous flaws, and would create far more problems than it would fix. The following points discuss some of the major flaws with this bill.

You can read more about HSLDA’s concerns with H.R. 3200 below.

Status:

7/14/2009Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
7/14/2009Referred to Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on Ways and Means, and the Committee on Education and Labor.
7/17/2009Passed by the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Education and Labor.
10/14/2009Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 168.

Sponsor: Rep. John Dingell (MI)

Cosponsors:

Bill Summary and Status H.R. 3200

Bill Text (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

HSLDA’s Position:
Oppose.

Talking Points:

H. R. 3200 is too expensive: H.R. 3200 is over 2,000 pages long. The complicated plan it presents would cost at least $1 trillion. The federal government will have to raise taxes in order to pay for this, since the federal government will shoulder more responsibility for health care costs. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Elmendorff said on July 16 that “…the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs…The way I would put it is that the [cost] curve is being raised….” The CBO further estimated that H.R. 3200 would add $239 billion to the federal deficit in the first 10 years.

H.R. 3200 establishes home visitation programs by adding two amendments to the Social Security Act: H.R. 3200 will establish a “Quality Home Visitation Program” and “Optional Coverage of Nurse Home Visitation Services.” The states will apply for grants from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and will use the federal grants to create or expand state-run home visitation programs. While these programs are not supposed to be forced on families, families who accept these services will have government officials entering their homes, monitoring their children, and teaching the parents how to raise their children.

H.R. 3200’s home visitation programs could encourage states to pressure families into these home visitation programs: Page 905 requires states that receive grants from the federal government to “provide voluntary home visitation for as many families with young children and families expecting children as practicable, through the implementation or expansion of high quality home visitation programs….” While H.R. 3200 says that these visits will be voluntary, the states may have an economic incentive to increase enrollments in these home visits, and may pressure families to participate in them. This is especially likely because Page 910 requires states that receive these grants to submit an annual report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, which includes the number of families in the home visitation program and retention rate.

H.R. 3200 could lead to politically influenced parenting classes that pressure parents to raise their children how the government mandates: Pages 904–910 set forth the requirements that states, which receive the federal grants, need to meet. Subsection (v) on page 906 requires that the state home visitation programs provide parents with “knowledge of age-appropriate child development…knowledge of realistic expectations of age-appropriate child behaviors; knowledge of health and wellness issues for children and parents; modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices; skills to interact with their child to enhance age-appropriate development; skills to recognize and seek help for issues related to health, developmental delays, and social, emotional, and behavioral skills; activities designed to help parents become full partners in the education of their children…."

Pages 808–809 of H.R. 3200 provide that eligible first-time pregnant woman and families with children less than 2 years old will receive home visitation services “improving maternal or child health…increasing birth intervals between pregnancies, reducing the incidence of child abuse…increasing economic self-sufficiency, employment advancement, school-readiness, and educational achievement, or reducing dependence on public assistance.”

All of these detailed aspects of the home visitation programs are open to being politically influenced by government bureaucrats who may think that they know more about parenting than parents do. They may pressure parents to adopt child-rearing methods that are against the family’s religious beliefs. Home visitation officials may even threaten families with abuse and neglect investigations if the families do not choose to follow the official parenting education models.

Additionally, the program outlined in pages 808–809 of home visitation services to first-time pregnant women to teach about “increasing birth intervals between pregnancies…” may result in government officials teaching young mothers about birth control or abortion services.

H.R. 3200 could result in taxpayers and employers paying for abortion services: Although H.R. 3200 does not explicitly mandate that health care plans cover abortion, the bill does require health care plans to cover “essential benefits.” Numerous amendments were introduced in various House and Senate Committees to clarify that abortion was not an “essential benefit.” However, all of these amendments were defeated. Without an explicit amendment to prohibit abortion from being covered, such services could be required by courts and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, resulting in employers and taxpayers being forced to pay for this service.

H.R. 3200 will expand the power of the federal government: The bill would create a “Health Benefits Advisory Committee” which would consist of 20 to 26 members appointed by the president and comptroller general. The committee will recommend benefit standards and updates to the Secretary of Health of Human Services. This unelected committee made up of government bureaucrats will dictate what services a health care plan must provide.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services alone chooses whether to adopt the standards. There is no appeal process. The Secretary of Health and Human Services conducts audits and determines if plans comply with benefit standards. The secretary can fine an employer, or suspend or terminate the plan if the secretary deems the employer in noncompliance. The secretary may decide to require that health plans cover polarizing services, such as abortion, and all employers will be forced to abide by the secretary’s decision.

Additionally, the federal government does not have the authority to take over health care under the U.S. Constitution. You can view a video of Mike Farris discussing this.