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From Health Law Daily, September 18, 2015

House subcommittee hearing is latest in series on Planned Parenthood funding

By Mary Damitio, J.D.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health held a hearing to review two proposed pieces of legislation aimed at removing federal health program funding from Planned Parenthood providers who are suspected of violating federal abortion laws. The hearing follows an investigation launched by the Committee into Planned Parenthood in the wake of videos released by an anti-abortion group purporting to show its providers discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood has stated that experts have concluded that the videos were heavily edited and distorted the actual events.

Proposed legislation. The hearing was held to review two bills that seek to strengthen enforcement against providers who violate the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-207) and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-105).

Suspicion. Both of the proposed bills at issue allow states to exclude providers from participating in programs such as Medicaid based solely on a suspicion that a provider or an employee has broken a law. One of the proposed bills, Protecting Infants Born Alive Act, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn), is purported to provide states “greater clarity” on excluding providers from federal health care programs who are suspected of terminating infants who were born alive. Additionally, the Protect Infants from Partial-Birth Abortion Act, introduced by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), is also aimed at providing “greater clarity” to states for excluding providers from federal health care programs that are suspected of performing partial birth abortions.

Supportive testimony. During the hearing, Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., President of Americans United for Life, and M. Casey Mattox, Senior Counsel from the Alliance Defending Freedom, provided testimony in support of the two proposed bills. Yoest stated that the proposed bills “are a critical first step towards a solution to safeguard the integrity of the Medicaid program, the integrity of the medical profession, and the lives of our most vulnerable young Americans,” and added that the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act should also include criminal penalties.

Mattox stated that Planned Parenthood only provided a, “limited selection of medical services,” while receiving significant amount of taxpayer funding. Mattox pointed to the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, which he stated, “appear to show evidence of violations of federal and state laws as well as serious ethical concerns.” Mattox also added that states would be “well within their rights” to terminate their Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood.

Opposition testimony. Attorney Judy Waxman provided testimony against the two bills, whose purpose she stated are to, “make it easier for state officials to target Planned Parenthood and other women’s health providers.” Waxman added that Planned Parenthood provides women access to critical health care services, and the bills would be, “giving states carte blanche” to exclude Medicaid providers based on “a politician’s suspicion only.” Waxman also stated that such legislation would impose a “guilty until proven innocent standard” on providers. She also argued that the legislation is unnecessary because Medicaid statutes already provide means of excluding providers that have been convicted of a felony.

Defunding effects. The proposed bills join another related bill seeking to defund Planned Parenthood, H.R. 3134, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) examined the proposed bill to determine the its effect on federal spending. The CBO concluded that the impact would be “highly uncertain,” and would depend on a variety of factors, including: (1) whether individuals who obtained Planned Parenthood services that were funded by Medicaid would continue to obtain services from the provider without Medicaid funding; (2) whether those individuals obtained services from other health providers who received Medicaid reimbursements; or (3) whether those individuals would no longer obtain any services. After considering various outcomes, the CBO estimated that, based on the center range of possible outcomes, defunding Planned Parenthood would reduce direct federal spending by $235 million from 2016 through 2025.

Companies: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory HouseNews MedicaidNews ProviderNews

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