Planned Parenthood has sent a petition to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, warning that a provision in the state’s Medicaid overhaul plan that allows providers to not offer family planning services “due to an objection on moral or religious grounds” could restrict access to a federally required service.
During this past legislative session, state legislators included the opt-out provision in its Medicaid plan at the request of Catholic Services. The Catholic Church wants to become a Medicaid provider under Florida’s new reform plans. However, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church considers providing family planning services, such as birth control, to be against their religious beliefs.
State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, attempted to change the provision, filing an amendment that said: “the agency shall ensure the availability of federally-required benefits if it is not covered by the plan.” The amendment eventually failed.
Planned Parenthood’s letter, written by Vice President for Public Policy Judith Selzer, asks the Agency for Health Care Administration to ensure that there will be access to family planning services, despite the absence of such language in the legislation sent to the agency.
The agency plans to make sure beneficiaries still have access to family planning if their provider does not provide it through a fee-for-service system. This would require them to go outside of their plan to receive family planning services. As Selzer previously told the Florida Independent, for many disadvantaged women, this system still presents barriers.
“If family planning providers cannot afford to participate in Medicaid as out-of-network providers, Medicaid beneficiaries are likely to find it difficult to access these services, even if they are a part of the benefits package to which they are entitled,” writes Selzer.
The Agency for Health Care Administration has until Aug. 1 to draft proposals of the state’s Medicaid plan to show the federal government.
The Planned Parenthood letter: