On April 19, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under the Obama Administration sent a letter to the Medicaid directors in each of the 50 states declaring that federal law nixes the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
“Pursuant to § 431.51(b)(1)(i), states may establish provider standards or take action against Medicaid providers that affects beneficiary access to those providers only (1) based on reasons relating to the fitness of the provider to perform covered medical services or to appropriately bill for those services, and (2) with supporting evidence of the provider’s failure to meet the state’s reasonable provider standards. This is consistent with longstanding CMS policy that Medicaid beneficiaries are provided with competent care by qualified providers and have the same ability to choose among available providers as those with private coverage.
“Providing the full range of women’s health services neither disqualifies a provider from participating in the Medicaid program, nor is the provision of such services inconsistent with the best interests of the beneficiary, and shall not be grounds for a state’s action against a provider in the Medicaid program.”
The letter was written in response to 10 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin — having recently taken steps up to and including passing legislation to halt funding for Planned Parenthood via Medicaid. These measures were introduced after the Center For Medical Progress, founded by right-wing anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, covertly filmed and circulated deceptively edited propaganda videos falsely suggesting that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue for a profit.
Though the videos were soon debunked and David Daleiden was later indicted for tampering with government records and trafficking in human organs, many Republican politicians and lawmakers, including Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, continued to flog the issue.
Being that the endeavor to defund Planned Parenthood was predicated entirely upon false pretext and given the manifold negative effects on society resulting from institutionally encroaching upon women’s Constitutionally protected reproductive rights, the federal shot across the bow to maintain funding for Planned Parenthood and its full spectrum of women’s health services is not only a necessity, but for the benefit of the greater good it should be punitively enforced. It’s past time for Americans to understand that states’ rights and the freedom of religious expression do not provide for encroaching upon the natural rights of people, particularly women’s reproductive rights.
Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.