Planned Parenthood is urging Kansas City-area lawmakers to oppose a provision in the Republican-crafted bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that would block the women’s health care provider from receiving Medicaid dollars.
Planned Parenthood operates 12 health centers in Missouri, including three facilities in the Kansas City area, and two health centers in Kansas, including one in Johnson County. A provision in the ACA repeal bill being pushed by Republican leaders in the U.S. House would block these facilities from receiving Medicaid dollars.
“What this is going to do is prevent women and young people coming to Planned Parenthood for preventative care,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Planned Parenthood receives roughly $500 million annually in Medicaid funding, which goes to pay for cancer screenings, birth control and other women’s health services. The taxpayer money does not pay for abortion services, which Planned Parenthood also provides.
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Richards told The Star that Planned Parenthood has “zero to do with the Affordable Care Act” and contended that the provision has “been stuck in there for purely political reasons.”
She said that Kansas and Missouri are already “two of the most restrictive states in the country for basic health care for women” and that this legislation would exacerbate that. Richards made these comments the same week that a member of the Kansas Senate compared her organization to the Nazis.
Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the state’s leading anti-abortion group, argued that even if the money does not pay directly for abortion services it helps subsidize them by providing Planned Parenthood’s centers with more funding.
“Whoever gets that federal money, it benefits them in the other parts of their business,” Culp said.
She said it’s very important to her organization that the language remains in the bill, which lawmakers are trying to pass through the reconciliation process. The reconciliation process only requires a simple majority, which would allow the legislation to escape a filibuster fight if it gets to the U.S. Senate.
“It’s important that this (provision) stay right where it is,” Culp said.
Richards’ organization is hoping it can sway House members to drop the provision before the legislation gets to the Senate.
“We have folks in Kansas and Missouri calling their congressmen, calling their senators,” she said, pointing to U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, an Overland Park Republican, as a lawmaker they were particularly targeting with calls.
Asked about whether he supports the provision, Yoder pointed to his support for a long-standing federal policy that bans taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortion services without directly commenting on this new proposal, which would block Planned Parenthood from receiving federal dollars for non-abortion services. He also noted the total number of health clinics in the state that provide women’s health services.
“Every woman should have access to high quality health care, and there are more than 200 federally qualified health clinics and rural health clinics that provide excellent services for women across Kansas,” Yoder said.
Richards called Yoder’s seat vulnerable, noting that Democrat Hillary Clinton won his district in the 2016 election.
“These are votes that are very unpopular. We’re doing everything we can to explain to Congressman Yoder,” she said.
Culp said that her organization would be pushing lawmakers to preserve the provision as the legislation moves forward and said that she wants Yoder and other members of the Kansas delegation to “stay strong.”