(Posted by Bryana Joy on December 20th, 2011)
Once these states’ intentions were made known, it didn’t take long for things to get ugly. The Obama administration declared Indiana’s measure illegal and ordered the state to restore the family planning funding to Planned Parenthood. If Indiana did not comply, it would lose its 4.2 billion dollars of Medicaid money – the government aid funds that are utilized by low-income women. The administration also warned that other states’ Medicaid funds would be in jeopardy if they chose to follow Indiana’s example.
This heavy-handed federal action was accompanied by a flood of accusations of the usual sort leveled at pro-life activists. President Obama stated that Republicans were trying to “turn back the clock” on women’s health. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called Indiana’s measure,
“a dangerous bill that would have a devastating impact on women’s health and take away health care from thousands of women in Indiana, leaving them at greater risk for undetected cancers, untreated infections and unintended pregnancies…”
Unfortunately for Cecile Richards, the truth of the matter is that there are over 800 Medicaid providers in Indiana and Planned Parenthood only serves 1% of Medicaid patients. Under the law that Indiana passed, a Medicaid patient trying to set up an appointment for feminine care with Planned Parenthood will simply be referred to a nearby primary care physician and provided with the same health services. Live Action tested this in a series of calls to Indiana Planned Parenthood clinics. Indiana’s law, which has been suspended pending a decision from the 7th Circuit of Appeals Court, would not have kept a single woman from her Medicaid money or her healthcare. The Obama administration’s decision to suspend Indiana’s Medicaid money is a threat to thousands of women’s health care plans.
In July 2011, Texas governor Rick Perry signed into law a bill that effectively defunded Planned Parenthood in the state of Texas. SB 7 also prevents hospital districts from using local tax funding for elective abortions, and encourages adult stem cell research by giving health officials authority to regulate adult stem cell banks. But when the Texas Health and Human Services Commission submitted a request for federal funding of the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program earlier this month, the Commission was told that it would have to defy the new law if it wanted the money.
What this means is that the Obama administration won’t provide money for Texas’ Medicaid Women’s Health Program unless Texas gives a portion of that money to Planned Parenthood and allows Planned Parenthood to be among the Medicaid providers. And this in spite of the fact that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did give Texas a waiver allowing Texas to move all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries to doctors in managed care plans. Tom Suehs, HHSC’s executive commissioner, said in a statement that the denial of funds was itself “inconsistent with federal law,” since states have the right to “establish qualifications for Medicaid providers.”
Perhaps Texas Gov. Perry said it best when he accused the Obama Administration of “holding women's health care hostage because of Texas' pro-life policies.” While we’re always hearing claims from pro-choice groups that opponents of Planned Parenthood don’t care about women’s health, the shoe is definitely on the other foot in this case. Women’s health may be important to the Obama administration, but what’s more important to them is that it be provided by Planned Parenthood. And if it can’t be – well, tough. It’s the government-sanctioned clinical program or the highway.
(Originally posted at the Washington Times Communities)