Anti-abortion rights advocates have begun preemptively blaming President Obama for Indiana’s possible loss of federal Medicaid funds. Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said during last week’s Faith and Freedom Conference that Obama would rather take Medicaid checks away from poor people than allow Indiana to defund Planned Parenthood.
Dannenfelser made this accusation during a panel of anti-abortion women at Ralph Reed’s annual conference for social conservatives. She applauded Indiana officials for recently defunding Planned Parenthood in the state.
However, as she pointed out, all is not said and done there. U.S. Medicaid Administrator Donald Berwick sent a letter to Indiana officials warning them that defunding Planned Parenthood would break federal law by not allowing Medicaid beneficiaries access to qualified providers of family planning services.
“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,” Berwick wrote.
If Indiana were to continue with their efforts to defund the chain of women’s health clinics (which, so far, is the case) the state could lose up to $4 billion in Medicaid funds.
According to the Associated Press, this is out of the ordinary. Usually, “state Medicaid plans that did not conform with federal law have been changed by states before HHS enforces any penalties.”
Dennenfelser said during the panel that Indiana’s Medicaid dollars are at stake because Obama and his administration are solely interested in protecting Planned Parenthood.
“They will shut down the federal government,” she said. “They in Indiana will make sure that poor people won’t get Medicaid checks. They will do anything to keep this organization in business.”
Another member of the panel, former Indiana state Rep. Jackie Walorski made the same accusation. She said that Indiana conservatives were “under direct attack from Barack Obama and from the White House.”
“This president and [the] opinion of this administration is to take all the Medicaid money away from the state of Indiana,” she said, “and leave the most vulnerable people completely out there, helpless because the government is trying to make a political point and score points in our state.”
Dennenfelser said that Indiana wants to defund Planned Parenthood because it is “the largest abortion provider in this nation that we are supporting with our tax dollars.” However, the legislation would not seize taxpayer funding for abortions through Medicaid because the federal government already bans the use of Medicaid money for abortions.
As Understanding Government explains:
The money that someone on Medicaid would use at Planned Parenthood would be for family planning uses like contraceptives or pregnancy counseling — practices that tend to decrease the chance of a woman choosing abortion. In other words, Indiana lawmakers and Gov. Mitch Daniels are specifically attacking a health clinic they don’t like. They are doing almost nothing to reduce abortions.
Presently, Medicaid family planning services in Indiana are facing an impending crisis. According to the AP, “Planned Parenthood has said June 20 is the day it expects to run out of funding to provide general health services such as breast exams and Pap tests to 9,300 patients on Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the needy.”
U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, who recently heard oral arguments for an injunction blocking the law, said she will rule on the case by July 1.
Video of the Faith and Freedom panel: