What constitutes the notion of “public funds”? If the government forces us to pay into a fund, and then controls the distribution of those funds, are those funds not “public”? Morgen at Verum Serum catches a portion of an interview between HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and BlogHer interviewer Morra Aarons-Mele yesterday, in which Sebelius praises the abortion-funding language in the Reid bill, as it maintains a flow of funds for abortion coverage that everyone — and she means everyone — supplies:
SEBELIUS: And I would say that the Senate language, which was negotiated by Senators Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray, who are very strong defenders of women’s health services and choices for women, take a big step forward from where the House left it with the Stupak amendment, and I think do a good job making sure there are choices for women, making sure there are going to be some plan options, and making sure that while public funds aren’t used, we are not isolating, discriminating against, or invading the privacy rights of women. That would be an accounting procedure, but everybody in the exchange would do the same thing, whether you’re male or female, whether you’re 75 or 25, you would all set aside a portion of your premium that would go into a fund, and it would not be earmarked for anything, it would be a separate account that everyone in the exchange would pay.
BLOGHER: It’s a bit confusing, but …
SEBELIUS: Okay. It is a bit confusing, but it’s really an accounting that would apply across the board and not just to women, and certainly not just to women who want to choose abortion coverage.
BLOGHER: Oh, that’s good, that’s good.
It’s only confusing if you bought Ben Nelson’s dodge that Reid had changed the abortion-funding language in any significant way. If the government forces it citizens to pay into premium exchanges and then controls the distribution of that money, then it becomes a public fund in any interpretation. That’s especially true if its intent is to be a slush fund for bureaucrats to apply to whatever purpose they see fit.