Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Trump is Quietly Helping States Defund Planned Parenthood

While the RINOs and Never Trumpers assault President Trump for the Omnibus bill, and say we should abandon him for lying to us about Planned Parenthood funding, the Trump administration is quietly helping states defund Planned Parenthood.
Republicans in state legislatures have been trying for years to strip funding from Planned Parenthood. In March of 2017, Trump rolled back a regulation finalized at the end of President Obama's administration that explicitly prevented states from denying federal Title X family planning funds to clinics, like Planned Parenthood, that also provide abortion services. Under longstanding practice, no federal funds can be used for abortions, but federal family planning money can flow to the clinics to provide other healthcare services. Some had been moving in recent years to choke off Title X funds from any clinics that offered abortion service. The Obama rule sought to prohibit such practices.
In January of 2018, the Trump administration gave them another gift, reversing Obama-era rules regarding Medicaid funds and abortions.
To understand the Trump administration’s decision and its impact, you need to go back to 2015. That year, an anti-abortion group released hidden-camera videos that showed Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for a profit, which is illegal. The videos touched off a wave of calls, at the state and federal level, to strip funding from Planned Parenthood.
One way states have tried to do this is by barring Planned Parenthood from being reimbursed for treating Medicaid patients. In 2016, Obama sent letters to states saying that was illegal; states could not bar providers from receiving Medicaid reimbursements unless those providers were unfit to perform medical services or to bill appropriately for those services.
In March 2017, Vice President Pence cast a tie-breaking procedural vote that allowed the Senate to move forward with an effort to nix an Obama-era rule that blocked states from defunding healthcare providers for political reasons. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) joined all Democrats in voting against ending debate on the bill.
On January 19, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, issued a short letter rescinding the Obama administration’s 2016 guidance, arguing that it “limited states’ flexibility with regard to establishing reasonable Medicaid provider qualification standards.”
The new letter doesn’t change the law; instead, it explains how the Trump administration plans to interpret and enforce it. Essentially, the Trump administration is signaling that it considers stripping Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood to be at least potentially legal, and is probably not going to try to stop states from doing it. That opens the door for states to keep Medicaid patients, many of whom are low-income, from using their insurance coverage at Planned Parenthood clinics...since Planned Parenthood only offers abortion services, not family planning services.
In theory, the new letter could also make it easier for other Republican-controlled states to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood. They would still be vulnerable to court challenges but now states know that if they want to lock Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid funding, the Trump administration is probably on their side.


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