For many states, expanding Medicaid means more cash for Planned Parenthood. That’s the story in Oklahoma. A series of undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress revealing that the organization sold human organs from aborted babies has spurred five states to partially or completely defund Planned Parenthood.
So far, only Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and Alabama are working to directly sever their Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood. However, there are 20 states, including Oklahoma, that have not participated in the Medicaid exchange program, a provision of Obamacare that would mean more cash for Planned Parenthood in many of these states.
Though the legislature has sworn off the expansion for now, a discussion decrying the coverage gap has recently cropped up in the Sooner State. A consequence of accepting the expansion would, among other things, result in a funding increase for Planned Parenthood.
Currently, there are no restrictions to block Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, according to Michael McNutt, press secretary for Gov. Mary Fallin.
Thus any increase in Medicaid eligibility would mean a potential increase in federal funds going to Planned Parenthood.
To be eligible for Medicaid in the Sooner State, individuals cannot earn more than $15,660 annually. Because Oklahoma has opted out of the exchange, they are able to set their own income requirements, but if the state were to implement the exchange, they would have to follow the federal guidelines and individuals earning up to $16,105 would qualify for Medicaid coverage.
Though the income threshold difference is small (about $445 annually) more people would qualify for Medicaid under the exchange, and would be able to use those funds to cover services at Planned Parenthood clinics.
Planned Parenthood clinics in Oklahoma don’t offer abortion services, but they do provide referrals to private abortion doctors. A quick call to Planned Parenthood’s Oklahoma hotline will confirm this. A Planned Parenthood employee explained that they refer their patients to Dr. Larry Burns, one of the few abortion doctors in the state.
“However, there are general program exclusions and limitations that restrict payment to any provider for abortion services,” McNutt explained in an email.
So while expanding Medicaid in Oklahoma would mean more tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood, those funds wouldn’t be spent on abortion services directly.
Phillip Wegmann contributed to this report.