TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Erica Sackin, Political Communications Director, Planned Parenthood Action Fund
DATE: Friday, October 23, 2015
RE: Will Congress accomplish anything other than trying to defund Planned Parenthood?
As the Congressional chaos surrounding the Speaker’s race slows down to a simmer, it seems likely that Congress will finally begin to be able to get back its primary job of legislating.
Will members of Congress address raising the debt ceiling before the looming deadline in early November? Will they renew the 9/11 first responders health care bill to provide care for those who risked their lives on September 11, 2001? Will they re-open the Export-Import bank, which remains shut down for the first time in its 81-year history? Will they advance priorities like tax reform, or comprehensive immigration reform?
No. Instead, they will vote on yet another bill intended to directly attack low-income women, blocking millions from accessing the health care they now rely on.
Congress is expected to vote on H.R. 3762, a reconciliation bill that would restrict access to basic health care for millions of women and men across the country as well as dismantle historic health care reform that has given millions of women access to no-copay birth control.
The upcoming vote will mark the SIXTH time since August that the House has voted to defund Planned Parenthood or roll back access to safe and legal abortion. Currently, no fewer than four committees in Congress are investigating Planned Parenthood. Politicians have also created a fifth “special committee” to launch yet another investigation -- spending untold resources and staff time -- in a blatant attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and cut women off from lifesaving care.
Millions of women and men choose Planned Parenthood as their trusted health care provider each year. Yet instead of focusing on sound governing and moving forward with economic priorities, House Republicans continue to be obsessed with cutting off women’s ability to receive services like lifesaving breast cancer screenings, STI tests and treatment, and birth control.
What would this bill do?
This bill would immediately disrupt federal health care programs that provide critical care to low-income women.
This bill specifically targets programs for those most in need -- by halting federal payments to Planned Parenthood under Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant, and Social Services Block Grant.
This bill would disrupt both regular Medicaid programs and the 28 state Medicaid family planning programs that provide contraceptive services and related care to women who would otherwise not be eligible for Medicaid coverage. These family planning programs are critical to reducing unintended pregnancy.
Across the nation, amajority of Medicaid programs are experiencing provider shortages, with over two-thirds of states reporting difficulty in ensuring enough providers, including specialty care (OB/GYN care, in particular) for Medicaid enrollees. Only 41.9% of OB/GYNs participating in Medicaid managed care offered appointments to patients.
At least 60 percent of the 2.7 million patients Planned Parenthood serves each year benefit from public health coverage programs such as the nation’s family planning program and Medicaid.
Health centers such as Planned Parenthood play a pivotal role in meeting the needs of patients with Medicaid. Twenty-three percent of women enrolled in Medicaid rely on community health centers and family planning clinics for care, compared to 7 percent of privately insured women.
Medicaid patients deserve to have the choice of their health care provider -- and millions choose to come to Planned Parenthood to access care. Low income Americans should not to have their choice of provider limited by politically motivated agendas.
Meanwhile, the Congressional obsession with Planned Parenthood shows no end in sight:
This marks the seventh legislative week in a row Congress has focused on attacking Planned Parenthood and women’s health -- including six floor votes in September alone and 17 prior votes this year to restrict women's health. In addition, four Congressional hearings on Planned Parenthood (only one of which Planned Parenthood was invited to participate in) have been held, and -- in spite of Oversight and Government Reform Chair Jason Chaffetz confessing twice that he does not believe Planned Parenthood has done anything wrong -- four Congressional committees and one special committee are focused on investigating Planned Parenthood.
This focus on Planned Parenthood and restricting women’s health care has already proven to be an embarrassment for Congressional leadership. “The Judiciary Committee was relentlessly mocked for holding a hearing on Planned Parenthood which Planned Parenthood wasn’t invited to, and for not even requesting unedited versions of the videos that had supposedly been the inspiration for the hearing. After a House Government Oversight and Reform Committee hearing where Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards was invited to testify, Representative Jason Chaffetz was taken to task for using a nonsensical chart created by an anti-abortion organization, which he claimed “comes straight from [Planned Parenthood’s] annual reports.” Majority members of the committee were also chastised for holding a hearing in which reporters noted they interrupted Cecile Richards, the only witness, at least 44 times, not letting her speak throughout the hearing.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced plans to make Planned Parenthood the next Benghazi, signaling that the GOP will continue to investigate Planned Parenthood -- despite multiple investigations showing no wrongdoing. McCarthy’s remarks revealed the blatantly political nature of the attacks on Planned Parenthood, threatening to do to the organization what he claims to have done to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee.”
Make no mistake: By eliminating Planned Parenthood’s ability to receive reimbursement for the care our health centers provide under Medicaid and other federal programs, this bill would deny low-income women, men, and young people access to the preventive care they deserve at the provider they choose.