A funny thing happened over the last week. Republicans managed to entirely turn around the Medicaid conversation while hoping no one noticed their complete reversal on it.
It came in the wake of the HHS ruling to Indiana that the state could not discriminate against providers when it comes to allocating federal Medicaid dollars. Indiana was the first state to pass a total ban on funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates, claiming that despite the law stating taxpayer funds could not be used on abortion services, just allowing the provider to even touch a dollar was the equivalent of supporting abortion.
Because laws have long been in place that keep the operating expenses for family planning, education and general health care separate from the expenses for the side that provides abortions, the administration told the state that discrimination of one provider was illegal, especially when that provider is responsible for a majority of the family planning and reproductive health care in the state.
Indiana balked. It has decided it would rather spend money fighting the ruling in court than accept these federal funds for their original intent. Also in jeopardy — the rest of the state’s Medicaid funding. If Indiana chooses not to comply with federal rules, it could lose its ability to participate all together.
Here’s where things get funny. Conservatives have spent the last year pushing an end to health care reform that would provide affordable and equal access for all citizens, regardless of job status, health status or gender, and, more recently, pushing to allow federal Medicaid funds to be reallocated to states as block grants, with states able to cap, redispense, and otherwise play with the money rather than ensure that it goes directly to the people who most need it, in the amount necessary to keep them healthy. And the people who most are in need are women, and children.
I need to repeat this: Republicans do not want states to receive Medicaid. They want states to get money that they would have received as Medicaid, and to be able to disperse it at their own discretion.
Now, starting this weekend, primarily at Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom conference, the number one complaint against the federal government appears to be that it is threatening to withhold Medicaid dollars from the state. Republican congressional candidate Jackie Walorski of Indiana, speaking at a pro-life panel, addressed the group:
“I am from the great state of Indiana, and we did just defund Planned Parenthood in our state. It can be done. And because we did, we are under direct attack from Barack Obama and from the White House…and even though a majority of the people in the state of Indiana do not want their tax money connected to abortion, this president and this opinion of the administration is to take all of the Medicaid money away now from the state of Indiana and leave the most vulnerable people completely out there helpless because the government is trying to make a political point and score points in our state.”
See what just happened there? Republicans in Indiana were told if they banned federal funding from going to Planned Parenthood, they would lose all Medicaid funding. They banned the money from Planned Parenthood. The administration said “put it back or we’ll have to remove all of your Medicaid money like we told you.” Indiana replied “No, we’ll fight it.” Now, Republicans complain that the government is threatening to withhold all of their Medicaid money.
Republicans are trying to cut Medicaid nationally. Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood. Now, they have a way that they can do both — by defunding Planned Parenthood they can “lose” their Medicaid money without needing the votes to actually pass a measure in congress.
Who is to say this wasn’t the plan all along?
Is it the administration that is leaving the “most vulnerable people completely out there helpless because the government is trying to make a political point and score points?” One group has been trying very hard to leave the social safety net intact. Another has been trying to keep tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest and big corporations safe while balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, primarily women and children.
Who do you believe?
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