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Washington, DC — As reported in Politico today, a just released letter from Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, shows that Trump-Pence’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been secretly coordinating with a designated hate group to develop policy to deny women and others access to health care.

The congressional oversight letter, sent to Eric D. Hargan, the Deputy Secretary for HHS, cites an HHS whistleblower raising “serious concerns” about HHS “taking orders” from Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center

As the congressional oversight letter states, “the documents raise grave questions about the legitimacy of the Trump Administration’s letter to state Medicaid directors on January 19.” 

The congressional oversight letter goes on to say that Alliance Defending Freedom was “behind an effort by the Trump Administration on January 19, 2018, to help states terminate Planned Parenthood as a healthcare provider for Medicaid beneficiaries seeking to exercise their statutory rights to obtain family planning or other health care services.” 

Shortly after the January 19 Medicaid letter was released, six prominent provider organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, who represent more than 560,000 physicians and medical students, issued a joint statement denouncing the Medicaid letter.

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:   

This is shocking and outrageous. The Trump-Pence administration has been secretly coordinating with, and in some instances taking orders from, a designated hate group in order to try to block people from coming to Planned Parenthood for health care.

“The Alliance Defending Freedom has spent decades trying to take away women’s access to health care and ability to control their own bodies and lives. The Trump-Pence administration has embraced this group’s philosophy and handed them the pen to make official U.S. government policy. 

“If there was ever any doubt, it’s now clear that the Trump-Pence administration’s actions to try to block women from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers are not only politically motivated, but being driven by extreme organizations, including designated hate groups.

"The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should immediately rescind the politically tainted January 19 Medicaid letter. CMS should also cease any and all politically motivated attacks on health care.

BACKGROUND: Key Passages from the Congressional Oversight and Investigations letter:

Pages 5-6:

  • “A whistleblower has now provided us with information and documents indicating that a right-wing advocacy group known as Alliance Defending Freedom was behind the Trump Administration’s recent effort to rescind the 2016 letter and to seek to eliminate protections for Medicaid beneficiaries who exercise their rights to seek family planning or other health care services. 
  • “According to the information provided by the whistleblower, on the morning of January 11, 2018, several high-level Trump Administration political appointees at HHS and CMS discussed a draft letter they would soon be receiving from an undisclosed source that would rescind the 2016 letter. 
  • “Directly after this discussion, at 10:07 a.m., your Chief of Staff, Kristin Skrzycki, sent an email to Brady Brookes, the Deputy Chief of Staff at CMS, explaining that processing this letter was an urgent priority: 
    • After conversations with Paula and Kelly this morning, CMS should be receiving the SMD [State Medicaid Director] letter today. Per our discussion yesterday, please make sure your clearance process is ready to go on this. We will need a very quick turnaround. Consider an utmost priority. 
  • “Later that same day, at 2:22 p.m., HHS Deputy General Counsel Kelly Cleary sent an email attaching the draft letter from the undisclosed source. Now that we have obtained a copy of that draft letter, it appears to have originated from Alliance Defending Freedom. The metadata for the draft letter identifies Casey Mattox as the author and Alliance Defending Freedom as the company that created the document....
  • “Within one minute of receiving the draft letter, Brady Brookes, the Deputy Chief of Staff at CMS, forwarded it on to additional political appointees within CMS. 
  • “On January 19, 2018, only eight days after the draft letter was first received, the final CMS letter was sent to state Medicaid directors. The final letter cut down the length of the first draft significantly and removed nearly all of the rhetoric explaining the true purpose behind allowing states to terminate unwanted providers. However, it achieved the same result—it rescinded the 2016 letter to try to limit protections for Medicaid beneficiaries seeking access to family planning services.” 


The law is clear: It is illegal to bar people from seeking care at Planned Parenthood. Longstanding protections within Medicaid safeguard every person’s right to access family planning care at the qualified provider of their choice. The freedom of choice provision is federal law and cannot be changed by guidance.

Not only is blocking care at Planned Parenthood dangerous and illegal, it’s unpopular — which is why it failed in Congress six times. Poll after poll shows that the American people overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood and strongly oppose these attacks on their health care.

The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts. In fact, the executive director of the American Public Health Association called the idea “ludicrous.” Planned Parenthood health centers care for 2.4 million people nationwide each year, and more than half of Planned Parenthood health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas. Two years after Texas barred care at Planned Parenthood, nearly 30,000 fewer women received birth control, cancer screenings, and other care through the state’s family planning program as a result. 


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 more than 600 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.


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