Saturday, 17 August 2013

HHS Awards Planned Parenthood $655,000 to Enroll People in ObamaCare

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The Obama administration has found yet another way to funnel taxpayer dollars to one of its favorite organizations. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just awarded three Planned Parenthood branches over $655,000 to serve as ObamaCare “navigators.”

On August 15, HHS announced that it would be awarding $67 million to 105 organizations to help Americans negotiate the labyrinthine process of applying for insurance on state exchanges and determining whether they are eligible for Medicaid or other subsidies. This was $13 million more than had originally been slated for navigators. According to McClatchy Newspapers, the extra cash was “borrowed ... from money originally targeted for disease prevention efforts,” indicating that the administration is more concerned with getting people enrolled in subsidized insurance than it is with preventing disease. Then again, as Human EventsJohn Hayward remarked, “ObamaCare has never been about the health of anything except Big Government.”

Recipients of the navigator grants include community organizations, healthcare providers, business groups — and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which operates in Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, will be getting $214,427 from HHS; the group plans to have navigators spread across the Hawkeye State. Intermountain Planned Parenthood, or Planned Parenthood of Montana, will receive $295,604 “to establish the Montana Marketplace Connection to assist consumers in navigating the Montana Marketplace.” And Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will be given $145,161 to help New Hampshire residents navigate their state’s health insurance system.

That isn’t the only taxpayer money Planned Parenthood will be getting to help spread the word about ObamaCare. States that have set up their own exchanges also need to get people to use them and are shoveling money into interest groups’ pockets to assist in this endeavor. Earlier this week the District of Columbia’s exchange awarded $6.4 million in grants for navigators, including $375,000 to Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.

“The federal funding of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood is a serious problem in our country, and one that I have been fighting since I arrived in Congress,” Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said in a statement. “This grant announcement is a sad reminder that despite assurances from the President when the law was passed, Obamacare will in fact give taxpayer money to abortion providers.”

According to the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, Planned Parenthood has performed nearly one million abortions over the last three reported years — about one every 95 seconds. In 2011, the last reported year, abortion accounted for 92 percent of the organization’s pregnancy services, with 11 percent of all clients killing their unborn babies that year. Planned Parenthood’s 2011-2012 report states that it received $542.4 million in government grants and reimbursements, including Medicaid payments, during that fiscal year.

The abortion giant stands to make oodles more from ObamaCare, which is why it pushed hard for the law’s passage and is now at the forefront of efforts to get people to enroll in the exchanges. Politico reported in June:

Planned Parenthood is diving into a new area of education, not without its own controversy: Obamacare.

The group’s more than 750 health centers across the country will be promoting the health law and helping women find out about new coverage options for themselves and their families before — and after — enrollment begins Oct. 1. They’re creating everything from refrigerator magnets to online apps that help people enroll in a health plan. Some affiliates will be applying to become official government-funded “navigators” to give people more hands-on help through the signup process.

Planned Parenthood says its health centers see nearly 3 million patients a year, many of them using the clinics as their primary point of care. More than nine out 10 are under age 40. About half are uninsured.

One local Planned Parenthood CEO told Politico that “nearly all of the 100,000 patients his health centers serve lack insurance, and he estimates about 75,000 will be eligible for Medicaid under the law’s expansion.” Most others, being low-income women, will be eligible for subsidies for the purchase of private insurance. Either way, Planned Parenthood wins because it will now be reimbursed — at taxpayer expense — for services it was previously providing for free or nominal fees.

In addition, reports the Heritage Foundation, “Planned Parenthood could also financially benefit from an Obamacare requirement that qualified insurance plans cover ‘essential community providers.’ Those providers, according to a list released by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this year, could include over 400 local Planned Parenthood affiliates.”

Little wonder, then, that Planned Parenthood has been pulling out all the stops to ensure that ObamaCare gets off to a successful start — so much so that President Barack Obama, speaking at the organization’s annual fundraising gala in April, praised Planned Parenthood for its efforts on behalf of his signature law.

Even if Planned Parenthood weren’t Abortion, Inc., there would still be good reasons to oppose giving it tax dollars for ObamaCare navigators. For one thing, the group is “currently under investigation by the Government Accountability Office after settling fraud complaints against Medicaid, and other government programs, for $4.3 million in Texas,” Hayward noted. For another, the whole navigator program is a disaster waiting to happen. It is being rushed to meet the October 1 deadline — the recent grant announcement itself was late — and in its haste to sign up navigators, HHS is throwing all caution to wind. Navigators, who will have access to much sensitive personal data on millions of Americans, will not be required to undergo criminal background checks and will have only minimal training — and HHS is even considering letting them start working before they have completed it. With Obama and Planned Parenthood concerned far more about quantity (of both navigators and people hooked on subsidized health insurance) than about quality, the navigator program could well turn out to be “a dream come true for rip-off artists,” as CNBC’s Herb Weisbaum put it.

In other words, not only should Planned Parenthood not get any navigator grants, but the whole navigator program ought to be scrapped. After that, it’s on to the rest of ObamaCare.