- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Democratic leaders of the House’s pro-choice caucus said Tuesday they plan to support a bipartisan deal to overhaul Medicare payments, even though it includes a familiar ban on using federal funds for abortion.

The statement by Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Louise Slaughter of New York is an attempt to salvage the Medicare deal struck by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker John A. Boehner, even as Senate Democrats air grievances about the so-called Hyde language on abortion and other aspects of the House package.

“The language included in the bipartisan compromise does not further restrict women’s access to abortion, and the provisions expire along with funding — just as the current Hyde Amendment does,” the pro-choice caucus chairs said. “We will be supporting this bipartisan compromise, and we encourage other members of the pro-choice caucus to do the same.”

On abortion, at issue is a ban on the procedure within funding for community health centers.

The abortion debate has already tripped up a Senate bill to combat human trafficking, and lawmakers from both parties are worried it will scuttle a hard-fought struggle to repeal an outdated Medicare formula known as the Sustainable Growth Rate.

Congress regularly overrides the cuts, but top Democrats and Republicans said it’s time to scrap them permanently before April 1, when doctors face a 21 percent cut in reimbursements.

“If someone needs a reason to be against this, I’m sure they can find reasons to be against it,” Rep. Michael Burgess, Texas Republican and lead author of the SGR-repeal bill, said this week. “I would rather approach it as, are there reasons to be for it? There’s plenty of reasons to be for it.”

Leading women in the House are hoping their counterparts in both chambers see it the same way, even as they reiterated their distaste for the abortion-funding ban.

“The Hyde Amendment is a temporary rider that expires every year, and we – along with many women across this country – look forward to the day when it will end,” Ms. DeGette and Ms. Slaughter said.

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