At least 24 states put half a million people at risk of losing their basic health care
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) and Center for Program Integrity (CPI) issued guidance to lawmakers in all fifty states, once again making it clear that recent politically motivated efforts to block Planned Parenthood patients from accessing care through Medicaid violates long-standing federal law.
This guidance is in response to an unprecedented wave of attacks on birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and other preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Since July, politicians in at least 24 states have been doing everything in their power to end access to care at Planned Parenthood through Medicaid, Title X, and other programs, putting more than half a million people at risk of losing their basic health care. In Missouri, a budget measure threatening access to care for more than 7,000 Planned Parenthood patients is poised to go to Governor Nixon any day. In Arizona, legislation targeting care for more than 2,500 Medicaid patients is also nearing Governor Ducey’s desk. In Louisiana, legislation is being heard this week that would threaten access to care for more than 5,200 Medicaid patients -- as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is scheduled to hear oral argument in a case against a similar measure in June.
Statement from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“In recent months, these political attacks on our patients have gone from a simmer to a rolling boil. What politicians couldn’t do in Congress, they’re now trying to do state by state, jeopardizing the health and well-being of more than half a million people in the process. Once again, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has made it clear that it’s illegal for politicians to tell women where they can and cannot go for care. Make no mistake: For the past nine months, politicians have been waging a political war on access to health care, putting the health and lives of women at risk in the process."
Once again, CMS is making it explicitly clear that states may not target providers on the basis that they provide abortion, stating that "[p]roviding 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 idea that other providers could simply absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts — in fact, the American Public Health Association called the idea ludicrous. Planned Parenthood health centers serve an outsized role in meeting the health care needs of those who rely on federally funded health programs. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers are in underserved patient communities such as rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that often, without Planned Parenthood, patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers provide a wide range of preventive health care services, and serve a total of 2.5 million patients per year — more than 60 percent of whom benefit from public health coverage programs such as the nation’s family planning program and Medicaid. Blocking this care has real and disastrous consequences for all recipients, and often has a disproportionate impact on communities of color, who already face systemic barriers in accessing quality health care.
Blocking care at Planned Parenthood has very real and devastating consequences for the communities served. After Indiana “defunded” Planned Parenthood, Scott County faced an HIV epidemic. In Texas, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that defunding Planned Parenthood led to a 35% decline in women on Medicaid using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27% spike in births among women who had previously had access to injectable contraception.
Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation's largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
April 19, 2016