Why Is Planned Parenthood So Popular? Because Government Thwarts Alternatives

Look beyond Medicaid to really cut dependence on Planned Parenthood while still ensuring that low-income women have access to medical care.


A provision in the Republican health care bill would bar Medicaid patients from choosing Planned Parenthood clinics for covered care. The idea, ostensibly, is to curtail abortion by driving Planned Parenthood out of business. Some folks also argue that the move is fiscally responsible. But contrary to conservative talking points, terminating Medicaid's relationship with Planned Parenthood would neither drive down costs for the publicly-funded health insurance program nor reduce dependence on abortion, as I note in today's Los Angeles Times.

If, as Republicans insist, patients can seek all the same services elsewhere, Medicaid costs will remain unchanged. The move won't necessarily affect Planned Parenthood's ability to provide abortions, since it doesn't rely on Medicaid reimbursements for this service. At the same time, less access to contraception and family-planning services could lead to greater demand to terminate pregnancies.

Presently, the U.S. health care scene is totally ill-equipped to handle the influx of low-income, reproductive- and sexual-health care patients we would see if we simply strip Planned Parenthood from patient options. America is already experiencing a shortage of obstetricians and gynecologists, many private providers won't see Medicaid patients, and community health centers are stretched thin as it is. Meanwhile, more than half of the approximately 2.8 million patients Planned Parenthood sees annually cover their visits via Medicaid. Like it or not, Planned Parenthood—which provides everything from cervical cancer screenings and urinary tract infection treatment to emergency contraception, prenatal care, and vasectomies—is currently a crucial part of the medical care and family-planning ecosystem.

Want to reduce dependence on Planned Parenthood? Look at why it's so popular among Medicaid patients in the first place, what alternatives currently exist (not a lot), and how we can remedy this dearth of alternatives. In many cases, government rules are to blame. But simple changes—allowing birth control pills to be sold over-the-counter; clearing the regulatory way for telemedicine; rethinking scope-of-practice rules that prevent nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and midwives from performing tasks they're perfectly capable of; and repealing regulations that prevent non-traditional providers (like mobile or retail health care clinics) from setting up shop in medically underserved areas, for starters—could go a long way toward making it so Planned Parenthood isn't the only OB-GYN option for many. And as I argue in the Times,

Helping bring more medical options to marginalized populations is a worthy goal for even the most ardent Planned Parenthood supporter.

Whether one's underlying goal is ensuring access to vital reproductive and sexual healthcare, reducing women's need for abortions, or reducing publicly funded healthcare expenditures, focusing on breaking down barriers to innovative, independent and cost-effective care in underserved areas will make a world more difference than micromanaging where poor women can get birth control pills.

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. If they provide all of these things that are so important, why don’t they just stop doing abortions? Do that and no one on the right will have any grounds to bitch or try and pull their funding.

    1. Because sticking “we do abortions” up the noses of mostly-right-wing anti-abortionists is a core part of who they are. It’s their purpose; the other services they provide are merely means to that end. So if they stopped providing abortions, there wouldn’t be any reason, from their point of view, for providing any of those other services either.

  2. Abortion is absolutely one of the dumbest things to jam your nose into other people’s business about.

    1. Exactly. Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize such a thing. When you have to dig into other people’s pockets for your rights then that is not a right at all.

    2. Phrasing!

      1. The argument could work either way, no? One version makes more sense than the other that essentially says not wanting to fund something is to ‘jam your nose into other people’s business’

        1. The real point of my comment was that people should mind their own business. Tend to their own knittin. Mind their own Ps and Qs. Buzz off. Scram, skedaddle, and git.

          1. If there is one thing that liberals and conservatives can agree on, it is that they have to make sure other people are living virtuously.

            1. With other people’s money. And that’s the thing here. Why should everyone be forced to financially support an organization that is just an arm of the Democratic Party now?

          2. No ‘vamanos’? Or would that be cultural appropriation?

            1. Vamanos Pest is out of business last time I checked.

      2. My comment was like a mirror for all others to cast their gaze upon and see only what they wanted to see.

        1. The last time I looked into a mirror I saw the amalgamation of a studmuffin and a beefcake.

          1. Strange coincidence, Beefmuffin was my nickname in high school.

          2. Which one were you, Crusty, the studmuffin or the beefcake?

            1. He was the third guy, in the back, with a camera.

              1. A camera that can be fully operated with just one hand.

                1. Look again, that’s no hand!

          3. Or was that a muffintop and meatloaf?

  3. publicly-funded health insurance program

    Is this not reason enough to be against it?

    1. No one but libertarians is against that part of it, though.

  4. What kind of warped logic must someone have to ever think that ensuring the public dole for any organization is totes ‘libertarian’?

    And considering that there are multiple healthcare centers that provide the same services as Planned Parenthood without providing abortion, the argument here is just “we need to have subsidized abortion services”.

    1. And considering that there are multiple healthcare centers that provide the same services as Planned Parenthood without providing abortion

      There are?

      1. Are you being factitious?

        Have you never heard of federal community health centers?

        1. There is doubt as to whether or not the health centers could pick up the slack, especially in rural areas. The Republican plan is to give the fchc’s a shitload of money so that they could accommodate the patients who formerly went to planned parenthood.

          1. True, but Planned Parenthood is not well represented in rural areas, so neither provides a much better alternative.

            Additionally, Medicaid can be used at multiple healthcare centers and physicians. Planned Parenthood is not an essential part of that system. There were no issues when Texas de-funded Planned Parenthood. The only issue was when the federal government sued Texas from doing that.

            1. Assuming what all of what you say is true – and I have some doubts – defunding Planned Parenthood and giving that money (and probably more) to another federally funded healthcare clinic seems like a recipe for disaster.

              1. Ideally, we shouldn’t be funding either. But, if we do fund one over the other, wouldn’t politicians be better stewards of public dollars by diverting money away from a political action group (which is what Planned Parenthood has become) that provides a controversial service and provide those dollars to a non-political, locally-managed healthcare facilities?

                1. Spending more money and disrupting lives in order to win a battle in the Team Culture war is pretty stupid.

                  1. I don’t see it as trying to win a battle in Team Culture War. The idea that it will disrupt lives is a dubious claim, firstly. I’m not even sure where you get the ‘spending more money’ claim. Secondly, you don’t see how funding a political action group with taxpayer dollars is problematic?

                    I’m not sure what type of mental gymnastics you need to make to some how square your opposition to de-funding Planned Parenthood with being a ‘libertarian’, but you should just be true to yourself and admit that you believe in ‘cutting spending, but just not for my pet projects’.

                2. So we’re clear, ENB proposes rolling back a number of different medical regulations so that the health care services that PP provides are cheaper and more available to everyone.

                  WakaWaka proposes that politicians shift government money to other health care services that have the correct politics and don’t provide private services which are deemed controversial.

                  Obviously, ENB is the fake libertarian here.

                  1. So we’re clear elizabeth makes the argument that we should subsidize pp because otherwise we’ll end up paying more on the back end. Are you sure you want to hang your hat on the idea that that is libertarian?

                    1. Where does she make the argument that we should subsidize PP?

      2. Quit being factitious, Crusty, you gold earn homo sapien!

  5. cian or gynecologist on short notice is notoriously difficult. A 2016 analysis found that there are only about 46,000 OB-GYNs in the U.S. ? about 29 for every 100,000 women ? and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates a shortage of 6,000 to 8,000 OB-GYNs by 2020.

    Fucking lawyers.

    About 45% of all births in the U.S. are paid for by the Medicaid program

    It takes a village to birth a child, too.

    1. It also takes a village to conceive one, or at least that’s what your mom insists.

      1. I’ve heard that 9 out of 10 people support gang rape.

    2. I wonder what big cuts to Medicaid would do to birth rates? Would people become more responsible about making babies if they had to bear the financial consequences of their actions?

  6. I appreciate Planned Parenthood for its contribution to ethnic cleansing.

  7. The repeated, misleading claim that Planned Parenthood ‘provides’ mammograms

    The myth that Planned Parenthood actually offers mammogram X-rays to patients has been long debunked, and needs to stop being repeated. Planned Parenthood does not administer mammograms, but it keeps being perpetuated by the group’s supporters, including celebrities whose claims have a wide reach.

  8. Planned Parenthood Offers Bare Minimum of Prenatal Care

    Here are some of the statements that Planned Parenthood clinic workers made on the phone when Live Action investigators called to request prenatal care:

    Tempe, Ariz.: “We don’t have prenatal care here . . . Planned Parenthood offers abortions, so they don’t offer prenatal care.”

    Athens, Ohio: “Unfortunately, no, we wouldn’t provide any type of prenatal services here at Planned Parenthood.”

    Albany, New York: “No Planned Parenthood does prenatal care, hon.”

    Farmington, New Mexico: “We don’t offer prenatal care at Planned Parenthood. . . . We specialize in abortions. You know, that’s what our ultrasounds are for, to see how far along the patient is.”

    Elizabeth, New Jersey: “Planned Parenthood, we do birth control, things like that ? terminations. We check for STIs, but we don’t do prenatal.”

  9. Planned Parenthood Paid $3 for Birth Control but Billed Medicaid $35, Former Manager Says

    A little-known whistleblower lawsuit accuses Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa of wrongly siphoning millions of American taxpayer dollars with a series of complicated billing schemes aimed at increasing profits.

    Among other dishonest practices, a former manager of the clinics alleges, Planned Parenthood staffers routinely purchased birth control pills for just under $3, billed Medicaid $35 for the same package of pills, and got reimbursed for $26.

  10. New Planned Parenthood undercover videos: Ultrasounds only for abortions

    Planned Parenthood uses ultrasounds to determine a baby’s age and position in the womb before it kills her. In the “Ultrasounds for Killing, Not Care” video, investigators posing as pregnant women asked 68 Planned Parenthood facilities for ultrasounds to check the health of their babies, but only three centers would provide them. The remainder either used ultrasounds for abortions or did not perform ultrasounds at all.

  11. Feel free to make the libertarian case for taxing some people to pay an ostensibly private organization to provide abortions at reduced or no cost to other people. But do so without telling easily refuted lies.

  12. So Lucius is Team Culture War, I gather.

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