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J. Michael Smith, Esq.

Michael P. Farris, Esq.

Senate Tied up in Health Care Debate

Federal Relations Department

December 8, 2009

The Senate has been debating health care since voting on November 21 to pass cloture on H.R. 3590, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) offered an amendment to the bill which includes a merged copy of the Senate Finance and HELP committee health care bills.

Some people may wonder why Home School Legal Defense Association has become involved in the health care debate. Our mission is to protect homeschooling and parental rights. In HSLDA’s Federal Relations Department, we track bills that would threaten parental rights or discriminate against homeschoolers. We determined the federal health care bills pose such a threat when we discovered that they would create new federal home visitation programs.

During a time of economic hardship, the Senate health care bill has designated $1.1 billion in state grants over the next four years. The grants will create new home visitation programs that will evaluate state-deemed “at-risk” households and instruct parents on how to help their children meet certain standards in behavior and education. The states will report the progress of these programs to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and the secretary’s self-appointed panel. If the states fail to meet certain goals, the secretary will become directly involved in creating a new goal plan.

Although the Senate bill calls these programs optional, states in competition for the grants may feel pressured to expand the number of participants and in turn pressure parents to participate—allowing the federal government unprecedented access into private homes and involvement in early education. We see these programs as a huge expansion of the federal government’s power that will threaten parental rights.

No one knows when the Senate will actually vote on its health care bill. It has been said that as soon as Senator Reid (NV) is assured that 60 senators will vote to pass the bill he will—with little or no notice—put it to the floor for a vote.

If the Senate passes it, it will be sent to conference where delegates named by Senate and House leadership will merge it with the House health care bill. Once this is done, one last bill will be sent back to the House and Senate for final votes. If the final bill is passed, it will be sent to the president to sign into law.

Action Requested

Please call your senators today and urge them to vote against H.R. 3590 “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” You do not need to identify yourself as a homeschooler. You can use some or all of the following message:

“I am opposed to ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ amendment in H.R. 3590 because Section 2951 creates home visitation/early education programs through grants to the states. Parents, not federal or state officials, should make child-rearing decisions for their children. Please vote against this bill.”

You can reach your two U.S. senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Or find contact information for your senators by using HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox.

You can also write letters to the editor and comment on blogs (congressional offices do read them) to express your opinions on this bill.

 Other Resources

For more detailed information on the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” please visit HSLDA’s legislative analysis.