Society

House Votes Allow States To De-Fund Planned Parenthood

| by Robert Fowler

The House has voted to reverse one of former President Barack Obama's rules that prevented states from denying Title X funding for Planned Parenthood and other health care groups that provide abortions.

In December 2016, Obama's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a rule barring states from stripping federal Title X funding from health care groups on the basis of providing abortions. On Feb. 17, the House voted to repeal the rule under the Congressional Review Act.

The repeal passed with 230 to 188 votes in the chamber. The measure received crossover support from Democratic Reps. Daniel Lipinski of Illinois and Collin Peterson of Minnesota, while Republican Reps. John Faso of New York and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania voted against it, The Associated Press reports.

The measure is expected to pass in the Senate, where it will only require a simple majority. President Donald Trump has previously pledged to support measures to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

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It is reported that 75 percent of federal funding for Planned Parenthood comes from Medicaid reimbursements, while 25 percent is drawn from the competitive Title X funds. The federal government does not provide any funding for abortions performed by Planned Parenthood, according to Vox.

Title X, a federal family planning program, is delivered in block grants to states and is awarded to groups that demonstrate the best ability to help community health care requirements. The Obama rule had stipulated that states could only deny Planned Parenthood clinics Title X funding if they did not meet this requirement, and not because it provides abortion.

Republican Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee deemed the rule to be federal overreach on how states can allocate Title X funds.

"We must return to a point where states are empowered to make their own health-care decisions ... without fear of reprisal from the federal government," Black said.

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The Tennessee lawmaker asserted that removing the rule would allow states the flexibility to shift their Title X funds from Planned Parenthood to community health centers.

Professor of health policy Sara Rosenbaum of George Washington University countered that many community health centers are already stretched thin, already placing patients on waiting lists.

"The notion they can suddenly ramp up their capacity to absorb all of the services Planned Parenthood can offer ... is absurd," Rosenbaum told The Guardian.

Planned Parenthood asserts that it provides health care to 1.5 million people through Title X funding, with the majority of those patients under the poverty level.

Following the House vote, President Cecile Richards warned that Republican efforts to strip Title X funding would result in a constituent backlash

"When Congress goes home next week, they can count on hearing from people at their offices, the corner store and every town hall," Richards said.

Sources: AP via Motto, The Guardian, Vox / Photo credit: Lorie Shaull/Flickr

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