Monday, 17 August 2015

HHS Claims States Cannot Cut Funds to Planned Parenthood

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According to the Obama administration, states do not have the right to decide how they spend taxpayer dollars. Federal health officials are warning that Louisiana and Alabama may be in violation of federal law after both states announced that they were ending state Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood. Despite this reaction from the federal government, other states have followed suit, with governors directing their state Department of Human Services to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood.

On August 3, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, announced that his administration would end provider agreements that reimbursed Planned Parenthood for health services through Medicaid.

In a statement regarding his decision, Jindal observed,

In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life. It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley made a similar announcement on August 6: "The deplorable practices at Planned Parenthood have been exposed to Americans. I’ve terminated any association with the organization in AL,” he asserted on Twitter, adding, “As a doctor and Alabama’s Governor, the issue of human life, from conception to birth and beyond, is extremely important to me. I respect human life, and do not want Alabama to be associated with an organization that does not.”

In a brief letter posted on LifeNews.com, Bentley gave 15 days' notice to Planned Parenthood regarding his decision to terminate the state’s agreement.

Both governors cited the release of undercover videos recorded by the Center for Medical Progress, where Planned Parenthood officials discuss the sale of body parts of aborted babies, as their reasoning behind their decisions. A total of six videos, which capture not only the trafficking of fetal body parts, but the illegal alteration of abortion procedures in an effort to preserve those parts, have been released by the Center for Medical Progress.

Critics noted that the videos revealed both barbarity and criminal behavior, if the organization was making profits on the organ sales. 

Planned Parenthood has apologized for comments captured in the videos, but defensively asserts it has not broken any laws and that the videos were selectively edited and taken out of context.

Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens, in response to the outcry against the videos, claimed that the people captured in the video were in fact engaging in “standard medical practice to review tissue to ensure the health and safety of patients.”

Laguens insisted, “Planned Parenthood’s medical providers and staff are the best in the country,” adding, “We have the highest professional standards, and we take swift action if we are ever aware of an instance where those standards aren’t being met.”

Public reaction to the videos has compelled lawmakers in Washington to attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, so far with no success. Conservatives are now eyeing the upcoming Continuing Resolution as a means by which to defund the organization, which is the country's largest abortion provider.

States such as Louisiana and Alabama are launching their own battles to defund Planned Parenthood. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services contend that they are violating federal law that requires Medicaid beneficiaries to receive covered services from any qualified provider, Yahoo News reports.

Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday that the federal Medicaid agency notified the states of the possible violation.

"Longstanding Medicaid laws prohibit states from restricting individuals who have coverage through Medicaid from receiving care from a qualified provider," Griffis said in a statement. "By restricting which provider a woman could choose to receive care from, women could lose access to critical preventive care, such as cancer screenings."

In fact, Yahoo News indicates that CMS would be able to withhold federal Medicaid funds from states that are considered out of compliance with federal law.

Planned Parenthood is currently considering a lawsuit in Louisiana, aware that it has the federal courts on its side after the courts overturned previous attempts in Arizona and Indiana to cut Medicaid reimbursements to the abortion giant.

Meanwhile, several other states have launched similar efforts against Planned Parenthood. On Friday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) directed his state's Department of Human Services to terminate its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood within 30 days from the letter dated August, 14, Breitbart News reports.

A statement from Hutchinson on the matter explains,

It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them. This includes their affiliated organization, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.

Likewise, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has ordered his state’s agencies to end sending federal funds to Planned Parenthood, citing the revelations found within the investigative videos.

The Washington Times reports that the New Hampshire Executive Council voted 3-2 earlier this month against funding with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. According to National Review, New Hampshire’s process is “unique” in that its elected council works with the governor to approve large state contracts.

Christopher Sununu, the son of former governor John Sununu, represented the tie-breaking vote. While he has previously voted for Planned Parenthood funding, he said that “investigations into potential criminal activity on both a federal and multi-state level have convinced me to withdraw that support.”

“This is not about pro-choice or pro-life. I am pro-choice,” Sununu said.

Of course, constitutionalists have long observed that the federal government has no authority in the U.S. Constitution to fund any Planned Parenthood’s activities, regardless of where one stands on the issue of abortion.

The firestorm generated by the release of the videos has even prompted StemExpress, the biomedical company that worked with Planned Parenthood to obtain the body parts of aborted babies, to announce it will no longer work with the abortion provider.

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