The Obama administration is threatening states attempting to defund Planned Parenthood–those trying to stop the flow of their Medicaid funds to the abortion provider–with potential violation of federal law and, ultimately, the cutting off of Medicaid funds to those states.
Following the release of investigative videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s practice of harvesting the body parts of aborted babies for potential sale to biomedical companies, Alabama, Louisiana, and New Hampshire have canceled their Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood, as CNSNews.com reports.
Other states are in the process of considering similar action.
In Wisconsin, for example, state Rep. André Jacque (R) is attempting to address all the layers of government funding of Planned Parenthood that are under control of his state in several pieces of legislation. While Gov. Scott Walker and the state legislature have redirected about $1 million annually from Planned Parenthood to a Women’s Health Block Grant, the abortion giant’s affiliate in Wisconsin still receives between $15 and $16 million in taxpayer money annually, mainly through Medicaid and Title X “family planning” funding.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has stepped in, however, reports The Wall Street Journal, to warn these states that they may be in violation of federal law because, by blocking Planned Parenthood’s reception of Medicaid funds, it says women could lose access to essential preventive care, such as cancer prevention screenings.
In an HHS guidance document from 2011, the Obama administration said states are not allowed to exclude providers from Medicaid solely on the basis of the types of services they offer.
According to the WSJ report, should the states continue to block Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, they can request a hearing to settle the matter; however, should the conflict continue, CMS could cut Medicaid funds to the state.
Spokesmen for both Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said their states are not in violation of federal law since their Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood give either party the right to cancel it at will with a notice period: 30 days for Louisiana and 15 days for Alabama.
The HHS guidance, however, also says that states can exclude providers from Medicaid funding if their engagement in certain criminal acts is proven, a provision that many believe is the case with the videos of Planned Parenthood’s top medical personnel discussing the sale of aborted baby organs and body parts.
“This really hasn’t been tried before,” said Casey Mattox, senior legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom. “Planned Parenthood has contracts with states that can be terminated for cause. In other situations the contracts were not terminated for cause.”
The Obama administration threatened to cut off Medicaid funding several years ago from Texas, when former Gov. Rick Perry redirected federal Title X funds to family planning centers in his state that are not affiliated with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. When Perry prohibited funding for low-income women’s health centers to go to Planned Parenthood clinics, the Obama administration argued the action was a violation of federal law and threatened to cut off Medicaid funding. Undaunted, Perry decided to fund the low-income women’s health program completely with his state’s own money.
In the wake of the release of the investigative videos by the Center for Medical Progress, White House press secretary Josh Earnest deferred to Planned Parenthood, stating the organization says it follows the highest ethical guidelines on medical research.
President Obama is a known champion of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. In April of 2013, he was the first sitting president to deliver an address to Planned Parenthood, which was founded by eugenicist and racist Margaret Sanger. He promised to stand with the organization against what he described as efforts to “turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950’s than the 21st Century.”
After praising the organization for its 100-year existence, Obama told Planned Parenthood, “God bless you.”
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has enjoyed a close relationship with the White House from the start of Obama’s presidency. According to a report at CNSNews.com, an online record of visitors shows that Richards has visited the White House 39 times since Obama took office, beginning January 20, 2009–the day he was inaugurated.
Since then, Richards has met with Obama alone at least three times and First Lady Michelle Obama at least twice. Additionally, she met with the President and his wife together another four times. She also attended the President’s second inaugural on January 20, 2013.
Richards met with David Plouffe, former senior adviser to the president, four times and current senior adviser Valerie Jarrett five times. She has also met with many members of the Obama administration, including former White House Chief of Staff William Daley, Office of Management and Budget director Shaun Donovan, and current Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.