Harry Reid has just released his manager’s amendment to the Senate Health bill, and they’ve apparently bought off Emperor Ben Nelson by allowing individual states to ban any/all abortion coverage in the new insurance exchanges.

[Update via David Dayen: Stupak working with Republicans to defeat Nelson anti-abortion amendment as not restrictive enough. David Dayen as more at News Desk]

From the New York Times:

Mr. Reid’s amendment includes tighter restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions sought by Mr. Nelson. Health insurance plans would not be required or forbidden to cover abortions, but states could prohibit the coverage of abortions by plans that are offered for sale through new government-regulated marketplaces.

The amendment also includes a special extension solely for Nebraska: increased federal contributions to the cost of an expansion

The previous language about segregating private vs public funds within the exchanges is reportedly tougher on women. We’re still reading the details, but from what we’ve seen, this is the general framework:

So . . .

1. The Feds will require you to purchase insurance

2. Feds say this is fair because we’ve got these nifty exchanges that will magically transform the currently concentrated insurance markets and make them competitive, affordable [not possible].

3. Only these exchange plans will have any significant federal enforcement for even the weak insurance regulations and price oversight.

4. States may ban abortions for all plans in the exchange, so women are not only stripped of current rights but left completely unprotected.

My first reaction is that this vastly exceeds even the hideous Hyde prohibitions and can’t possibly be Constitutional, except in today’s Court. That means that if Emperor Nelson’s decrees are challenged, that case could become another vehicle for repealing Roe v Wade.

Now there’s change you can believe in. The Democrats just lost the moral right to ask for the votes of anyone who believes in women’s rights and equal treatment before the law.

It’s a suicide pact.

Oh, and Emperor Nelson reportedly (h/t TPM) demanded that his deal not be changed in Conference, which means he’s asked that the House of Representative be effectively abolished.

"Without in any way intending to be threatening–to be more in the more of promising–let me be clear, this cloture vote is based on full understanding that there will be a limited conference between the Senate and the House," Nelson said. "If there are material changes in that conference report, different from this bill, that adversely affect the agreement, I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote–let me repeat it–I reserve the right to vote against the next cloture vote if there are material changes to this agreement in the conference report. And I will vote against it if that is the case.

All Hail, Emperor Nelson.


ThinkProgress, Senate Bill Will Allow States to Prohibit Abortion in Exchanges

TPM, Details on abortion restrictions; Reid claims he has 60 votes

HuffPo, Nelson press video; also at MSNBC