A screenshot of Live Action's "Do women need Planned Parenthood?" video (Pic via YouTube)
A screenshot of Live Action's "Do women need Planned Parenthood?" video (Pic via YouTube)

Anti-abortion advocates still preemptively blaming Obama for Indiana losing Medicaid dollars

By | 06.29.11 | 2:02 pm

Live Action, Lila Rose’s anti-abortion rights group, recently released a video that features “undercover phone calls” aimed at displaying how Indiana’s law defunding Planned Parenthood has no effect on Medicaid beneficiaries. The group is claiming that the Obama administration is exercising an “abuse of power” by threatening to withhold federal Medicaid funds from the state.

The video features recorded phone calls of women asking Planned Parenthood employees whether they (as Medicaid beneficiaries) can obtain the services they would otherwise get at Planned Parenthood elsewhere. Because the clinic lets the women know that they can get the same services at other clinics, Live Action dismisses the need for Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider in the state.

According to Live Action:

“There are over 800 other Medicaid providers available to these women in the counties with Planned Parenthood clinics alone,” Lila Rose says.

Even Indiana doctors agree that defunding Planned Parenthood in Indiana would have little to no effect on the care and services provided to Medicaid patients.

“If Planned Parenthood only sees 1 percent of Medicaid patients in the state, and that’s their statistic, it doesn’t seem like they are making a big imprint in the first place,” said Dr. Geoff Cly, at the Northeast Ob/GYN Women’s Health Group in Fort Wayne, IN. “I know in our group, we currently have capacity to see more patients and I’m sure many other groups could easily take care of the 1% that’s left if Planned Parenthood no longer took care of those patients.”

The fact remains that the state is likely breaking federal law.

A federal agency warned Indiana officials that the state could not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services. According to a letter (.pdf) from Donald Berwick of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Indiana’s plan “does not comply with the requirements of section 1902(a)(23) of the Social Security Act (the Act).”

Berwick told officials the law ensures that “beneficiaries may obtain covered services from any qualified provider that undertakes to provide such services.” Planned Parenthood of Indiana provides health services for low-income and uninsured women in the state.

However, as other anti-abortion advocates have pointed out, their fight is really about Planned Parenthood providing abortions among their many services — not about their status as a Medicaid provider. As Berwick explains, this too, misses the point:

Federal Medicaid funding of abortion services is not permitted under federal law except in extraordinary circumstances (such as in cases of rape or incest). At the same time, Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider’s scope of practice. Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers, who are subject to additional protections under section 1902( a)(23 )(B) of the Act.

Despite the violation of federal law, Live Action and others are still claiming that the loss of federal Medicaid funds should be blamed on Obama:

President Obama has come to Planned Parenthood’s aid by threatening to deny billions in low-income healthcare funds unless Indiana starts contracting with them.“The Obama administration is holding patients’ health hostage in return for funding the largest abortion provider in the country,” asserted Lila Rose. “This abuse of power is a threat to every other state – that no matter the cost or consequences, this Administration will sacrifice healthcare for the needy to continue pouring tax dollars into Planned Parenthood.”

A U.S. District Court judge recently granted Planned Parenthood of Indiana an injunction. The clinics have continued to serve their Medicaid clients, despite the efforts to defund the clinics.

Here is the Live Action video:

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