In December, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule that would prohibit states from withholding federal funds—including Medicaid and Title X family planning money—from Planned Parenthood. On Monday afternoon, a Republican senator introduced a bill that would reverse it.
The bill, from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), would prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding and redirect those funds to other health care providers. The Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal funds from being used for most abortions, but this legislation would bar low-income women who rely on Medicaid and Title X funding for subsidized care from obtaining other women’s health care services at Planned Parenthood.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson tried to unilaterally block all Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood in apparent violation of federal law in the summer of 2015, a move enjoined by a federal judge when Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit.
Hutchinson wants to disallow reimbursements (mostly federal money) to Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider. Bear in mind that Medicaid dollars are already prohibited by law from paying for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother. The idea is to impose a ban on Planned Parenthood for the other medical services to it provides to Medicaid patients (Medicaid funds are a significant source of the nonprofit’s revenues).
The Obama administration issued guidance that federal law prohibits excluding a qualified Medicaid provider without a legally valid reason (the Arkansas legislature banned state funding to Planned Parenthood during the 2015 session, but it specifically exempted Medicaid payments from the law to stay in compliance with federal regs).
But the Trump administration may see things differently. And Congress, as expected, is aiming to bar any federal funding from going to Planned Parenthood (again, this is aimed at non-abortion services). A similar bill passed both chambers of Congress last year but was vetoed by Obama.