Politics & Government

Planned Parenthood still gets Medicaid funds despite Kansas’ threats of cutoff

TOPEKA – Kansas hasn’t cut off Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood even though Republican Gov. Sam Brownback declared two months ago that his administration would quickly end the funding, one of the organization’s top officials said Wednesday.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President Laura McQuade said services are still being provided to Medicaid participants – and state reimbursements are being made – at five clinics in Kansas and the Kansas City, Mo., area. She said her group expected to have been notified by now by state health officials that the clinics were no longer considered Medicaid providers.

“Whether or not it’s legal, whether or not it’s rational, whether or not it’s constitutional, those aren’t the guiding principles,” she said. As for a two-month delay, she said: “That’s not how it’s played out in other states.”

Brownback’s spokeswoman said she was looking into the situation Wednesday.

Federal courts have recently blocked attempts to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood in Arkansas, Louisiana and Utah. Similar attempts in Arizona and Indiana in 2011 and 2012 also were blocked by courts. Planned Parenthood’s national organization said that since August, seven states have moved against the group’s Medicaid funding.

Brownback, a vocal anti-abortion conservative, declared in his annual State of the State speech in early January that he was acting to ensure “not a single dollar of taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood” through Medicaid. The next day, he sent a letter to Susan Mosier, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, directing her to terminate any provider affiliated with Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid participant.

The health department released a statement Wednesday saying it was “continuing to work through the proper procedure for terminating Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding eligibility in accordance with the law.”

Several anti-abortion legislators said they expected Brownback to cut off Medicaid funding this spring through executive action or a budget provision.

“I’ve been surprised that we haven’t seen it yet,” said Sen. Garrett Love, R-Montezuma, the leading sponsor last year of a first-in-the-nation law to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure. “I think Kansans want to see Planned Parenthood defunded.”

Planned Parenthood provides services to Medicaid participants in Kansas at clinics in Wichita and Overland Park, as well as three clinics in the Kansas City, Mo., area. The Overland Park clinic performs abortions, but McQuade said Medicaid funds cover only services such as health exams, family planning services, and breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment. The federal Hyde Amendment, first passed in 1976, restricts Medicaid funds from covering abortion services.

A spokeswoman for the local Planned Parenthood affiliate, Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, said the organization wanted to ensure that its Medicaid patients knew they could still receive services at the clinics in Kansas.