- - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

As Americans cast ballots in one of the most critical elections in decades, many would be surprised to learn that the current administration is prepared to funnel millions of dollars in new Medicaid funding to abortion providers. Only President Romney working with the new Congress can stop it.

Fundamentally, it is troubling that Planned Parenthood and their colleagues, who do not provide comprehensive health care for women, receive significant funding from Medicaid, a program intended to provide health care for those most in need. Planned Parenthood’s internal surveys show that approximately 70 percent of women who visit their clinics do not follow up with referrals to other medical facilities to have other important health needs addressed. As a result, it is better for women to seek birth control and related services from more comprehensive health care facilities, such as community health centers, who can address a broad array of health issues that Planned Parenthood clinics are not equipped to handle.

Further, with an anemic economy and an overcommitted federal government, where is this new Medicaid funding coming from? Call it another “gift” from President Obama and his allies in Congress to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, covertly delivered through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade

Under Obamacare, states that expand their Medicaid program by 2014 to cover all individuals under the age of 65 with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty line, may receive 100 percent federal funding to cover these newly eligible individuals through 2016. After that, the federal payment level will gradually decrease to a minimum of 90 percent, with the states making up the difference. If every state participates, this will increase federal Medicaid spending by approximately $100 billion per year, a nearly 40 percent increase.

Much of this increase in Medicaid spending will go directly to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “In 2001, [Medicaid] provided six in 10 of all public dollars spent far surpassing the Title X national family planning program (15%), and other programs.” Further, Guttmacher states that all but seven states and the District of Columbia spent more than $1 million for family planning services and supplies through their Medicaid programs. Translation: Abortion providers that receive Medicaid funds are literally bankrolling their businesses with public dollars.

While the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of these funds to directly pay for most abortions, Congress must add the Hyde Amendment to the Labor, Health & Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations bill annually—a practice the abortion industry is actively lobbying to end. Further, there is growing evidence, including testimony in recently unsealed “whistleblower” lawsuits, that some abortion providers already fail to routinely provide “meaningful” separation of funds, ensuring that tax dollars are not directly paying for abortion-related services. Given that the majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortion, this is deeply troubling.

Clearly, given the abortion industry’s reliance on Medicaid funds, they are going to greatly benefit from the estimated $100 billion annual expansion in Medicaid funding permitted through the Affordable Care Act, not to mention the increase in Medicaid eligibility.

What can states do about this? At this point in time, nothing—states that want to prevent abortion providers from receiving Medicaid funds have their hands tied by Congress and the courts. In last week’s decision in Planned Parenthood v. Indiana, the Seventh Circuit held that the state could not disqualify abortion providers from receiving traditional Medicaid funds because they perform abortions. Critically, the court reached this decision based on language in the federal Medicaid statute that restricts states’ discretion to define who is “qualified” to provide Medicaid services.
In other words, if Congress amends the federal Medicaid statute to give states more discretion to determine who is qualified to receive Medicaid funds, states can use that discretion to cut off abortion providers.

We already know that Mr. Obama would never support such a change. In fact, the Obama administration rejected Indiana’s proposed amendment to its Medicaid plan excluding abortion providers before the Seventh Circuit issued its decision. Without the administration’s approval of its plan, the state faced the possibility of losing millions in Medicaid funding and denying care to some of its most vulnerable citizens.

Clearly, we need a new administration that understands how inappropriate the use of federal funds to bankroll the abortion industry really is, when those funds are intended to provide real health care for our most needy citizens. We need Congress to amend the federal Medicaid statute to permit states to determine that abortion providers are not qualified to provide care through the Medicaid program, given that their most lucrative services take innocent human lives, and most fail to provide true comprehensive health care for women.

It is time to act—four more years of Mr. Obama and a pro-abortion Senate will be devastating for unborn children and their mothers. It is time to stop “footing the bill” for Mr. Obama’s friends in the abortion industry, and elect a president and Congress dedicated to rebuilding a culture of life.

Mary Harned is staff counsel at Americans United for Life Action.