This is the third post of a three-part blog series on why some politicians want to block Medicaid patients from Planned Parenthood. Our first two posts were about why Planned Parenthood provides abortion, and why people use Medicaid for preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Institutionalized discrimination in the U.S. health care system and economy has long created barriers for Black, Latino and other people of color from career and economic success. This limited access to financial security has numerous consequences — such as limited access to health care, including safe and legal abortion. How is health care insurance related to abortion access? Two key policies:
Politicians who oppose abortion have passed policies like the Hyde Amendment — which prohibits federal health programs from covering abortion. So, people who use Medicaid, people who work for the federal government, veterans using Tricare, and others must pay for abortion out of pocket.
In addition, politicians pandering to the minority of voters who want to outlaw abortion l have pushed policies to “defund” Planned Parenthood — which essentially means blocking people from using public health care programs for preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers and others that also provide abortion. If a state “defunds” Planned Parenthood, people would not be able to use Medicaid for any reason at Planned Parenthood health centers in that state.
Here's the thing: The majority of Planned Parenthood patients are people who lack private health insurance. In fact, about 50% of the 2.4 million patients who visit Planned Parenthood each year use public health programs.
Abortion Coverage and “Defunding” Restrictions Are Discriminatory, Racist Policies
Due to the legacies of racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and other systemic barriers in American society, many people with low incomes, Black people, Latinos, immigrants, people who live in rural areas, and LGBTQ+ people have less access to jobs that offer health coverage. Historic and continuing discrimination means these communities are more likely to be enrolled in Medicaid and other government health care programs.
In 2019, nearly 50% of Medicaid nonelderly adult patients in the United States identified as Hispanic or Black, compared to the 41% of white nonelderly adults in the country who use Medicaid. People in these communities already navigate inherently discriminatory systems with fewer freedoms than others simply to exercise basic human rights — including accessing affordable health care. Restrictions on their abortion coverage and where they can get preventive care makes the problem even worse.
The Hyde Amendment keeps patients from using Medicaid for abortion at any health facility. Politicians’ efforts to “defund” Planned Parenthood keep patients from using Medicaid for birth control, STD testing, cancer screenings, and other preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Together, the Hyde Amendment and “defund” attacks significantly decrease the health and economic well-being of these communities.