Former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards campaigned with Montana Sen. Jon Tester Thursday after a poll this week found the Democrat to be in a statistical tie with GOP senate candidate Matt Rosendale.
Richards, who presided over America’s largest abortion chain for 12 years until her departure earlier this year, spoke with Tester to a crowd of some 60 people at Montana State University, reported Montana Public Radio.
“Women’s rights are on the ballot this year,” Richards said. “Our access to health care, our ability to make equal pay, our ability to get affordable childcare and participate in the workforce – so, for women, this is it. This is the election.”
Richards and Tester – both proponents of Obamacare – told their audience the future of former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation could be determined by the midterm elections on Tuesday.
Obamacare has benefited Planned Parenthood. In a report by the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives – which investigated allegations the group profited from the sale of body parts of aborted babies – the panel noted that during fiscal year 2015, “43% of Planned Parenthood’s revenue derived from ‘government health services grants & reimbursements,’ at a price tag of $553,700,000.”
The panel continued:
Further, while abortion providers are not permitted to receive reimbursement for abortion from Medicaid, former employees of Planned Parenthood have testified that Planned Parenthood would separate out charges for services and products rendered in connection with abortions, such as office visits, ultrasounds, Rh factor tests, lab work, general counseling, and abortion aftercare, and submit those “fragmented” or “unbundled” charges as claims for Medicaid reimbursement.
The House panel also noted documentation of external reviews of Planned Parenthood affiliates’ financial data, practices and federal audits of state family planning programs, that show the group’s affiliates have overbilled $132.4 million in Medicaid and other healthcare funding programs.
Tester said Obamacare may not be perfect, but that the law is increasing access to health care.
“Look there are plenty of problems with the ACA that need to be fixed and need to be fixed in a bipartisan way,” the senator said. “But just to repeal it and throw all the good things away that that bill did, is a big mistake.”
“I’ve had plenty of debates with folks that say, look, my health care rates are too high,” Tester continued. “And so this is a problem. We’ve got to figure out ways to help drive it down for everybody, including women.”
“Not once during the roughly 40-minute event did Tester ever say the word ‘abortion,’ which is among the many health care services provided by Planned Parenthood, but undoubtedly the most politically charged,” said Montana Public Radio.
Tester defended Planned Parenthood’s image as a “health care” provider.
“I don’t care if you’re a Republican, Independent, Democrat, Libertarian, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Look, Planned Parenthood offers health care to people. In a rural state like Montana that access is critical. Not unlike community health centers, not unlike small hospitals throughout the state.”
Federally qualified community healthcare centers, however, provide more comprehensive services than Planned Parenthood to low-income families, including prenatal care. Nationally, there are 13,000 FQHCs – a figure that outnumbers Planned Parenthood facilities by 20 to 1. Montana residents can locate a health care center in their area by visiting getyourcare.org.