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Republicans slam report that shows taxpayers are funding elective abortions

President Barack Obama greets well wishers as he arrives at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. Obama will deliver remarks at Laborfest 2014 at Henry Maier Festival Park. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck) AP Photo/Darren Hauck

House Republican leaders on Tuesday blasted a new government report indicating that taxpayer money is likely being used to subsidize the purchase of health care plans that cover abortion services, even though Democrats explicitly promised that public money would not be used to fund abortion.

The GAO report was produced at the request of House Republican leaders, who said it's example of a broken promise by President Barack Obama and his supporters.

President Barack Obama and other Democrats promised taxpayer money would not be used to fund abortion coverage under Obamacare, but a new government report says the law is not being implemented correctly. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

"In 2010, President Obama and the leaders of the Democratic majority in Congress rammed through a government takeover of America's health care system over the objections of the American people," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday. "The measure passed the House in part because the White House and Democratic leaders insisted that Obamacare would not use taxpayer funds to support elective abortions."

"Today's GAO report confirms that under the president's health care law, abortions are being paid for with taxpayer funds by more than 1,000 exchange plans across the country," Boehner added. "This information has been hidden from the American public for years by the Obama administration, which repeatedly denied congressional requests for its public release."

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the GAO report shows the Obama administration is doing nothing to keep the promise it made to Americans when he pushed the law through Congress.

"This means that the American people, including those who object to taxpayer dollars being spent on any such coverage, may not even be aware that the plan they are purchasing provides for on-demand abortion services," McCarthy said.

Under Obamacare, health insurance issuers are required to assess a separate surcharge to anyone who wants abortion coverage — the only exception is abortions related to rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. That direct surcharge for elective abortion was supposedly created to ensure that people would not be able to have taxpayers subsidize abortion coverage.

The law says the surcharge must be assessed at no less than $1 per month per enrollee. However, a footnote in GAO's report says that this surcharge is not always being collected.

"[I]n the course of our work, we identified, instances where practices of private issuers and others may have been inconsistent with federal requirements related to the coverage of non-excepted abortion services," the report said. "These practices included some instances in which QHP (qualified health plan) issuers estimated the cost of coverage of non-excepted abortion services at less than the statutory minimum of $1 per enrollee, per month," the report said.

It also founded cases where a state-based exchange didn't assess any premium for elective abortion services, and said some plan issuers aren't notifying people about coverage of elective abortion coverage.

Republicans say failing to collect the surcharge and failing to notify people about it opens the door to the public funding of abortions, through tax credits and subsidies that people can use to pay for abortion services.

The GOP dismissed the idea of using surcharges as a "gimmick" back when Obamacare was being considered, and McCarthy labeled it a gimmick in his statement Monday.

"Taxpayer subsidies are paying for plans that cover abortion and none of the plans interviewed by GAO are being required to comply with Obamacare's accounting gimmick of separate surcharges for abortion coverage," McCarthy said. "The report further shows that the Obama Administration is not enforcing the requirement that plans covering on-demand abortion services make that information available to consumers."

The report also found that nationally, 1,036 health plans being offered under Obamacare cover elective abortions. But in a survey of insurance companies responsible for most of these plans, most did not itemize the surcharge for elective abortion services as required.

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