Both pro-choice and pro-life protesters gathered outside a Planned Parenthood to counteract one another in Kent, Wash., Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Anti-abortion activists emboldened by the new administration of President Donald Trump staged rallies around the country Saturday calling for the federal government to cut off payments to Planned Parenthood, but in some cities counter-protests dwarfed the demonstrations. (Grant Hindsley/seattlepi.com via AP)
Both pro-choice and pro-life protesters gathered outside a Planned Parenthood to counteract one another in Kent, Wash., Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Anti-abortion activists emboldened by the new administration of President Donald Trump staged rallies around the country Saturday calling for the federal government to cut off payments to Planned Parenthood, but in some cities counter-protests dwarfed the demonstrations. (Grant Hindsley/seattlepi.com via AP)

Some Medicaid waivers may disappear

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If Senate File 2 passes, UIHC could lose Medicaid waivers for family-planning services.

By Molly Hunter | molly-hunter@uiowa.edu

The UI Hospitals & Clinics could lose its Medicaid family-planning funding under Senate File 2, a bill recently proposed in the state Legislature.

UIHC is one of the organizations using the Medicaid family-planning network waiver, which would be discontinued in Iowa under SF 2. The money currently used for the waiver would instead finance a state family-planning service program established by SF 2.

The Iowa Senate has passed SF 2, and it now sits in the House Human Services Committee. If the panel recommends the bill for passage and the House passes SF 2, it will be sent to Gov. Terry Branstad to be signed into law.

The state program created by the bill would introduce new restrictions on family-planning fund distributions, withholding money from organizations that provide abortion services — a heading under which the UIHC falls.

“Annual billing through the [waiver] program averages $50,000,” wrote Tom Moore, the director of UI Health Care media relations, in an email to The Daily Iowan. “If the state eliminates the program, and the program that is proposed in SF 2 becomes law, we would not be able to participate in the new program that replaces the waiver.”

However, Moore said, the bill does not apply to all Medicaid funding. Therefore, the university would still qualify for participation in other Medicaid programs, such as traditional Medicaid, HAWKI, or Medicaid-expansion programs.

“[The waiver] makes up a small percent of our total Medicaid,” Moore said. “The vast majority of those on Medicaid we serve fall within one of the other Medicaid programs.”

Executive Director for Iowa Personhood Tim Oberlin said many family-planning organizations say abortion is only a small part of what they do.

“If that’s the case, and they want to provide health care, then they can very easily drop that, and they would be 100 percent eligible for this program,” he said.

The Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders has created a map of 157 rural health-care centers across Iowa that they contend would qualify for family-planning Medicaid money under SF 2.

“Everyone of them was contacted by members of our coalition and provided us with the services they are able to provide,” said coalition spokeswoman Jenifer Bowen wrote in an email to the DI.

However, Bowen said, the list is not exhaustive. It does not include urban health centers, of which there are more than three-dozen, and the rural centers include only those vetted by the coalition so far.

Still, Bowen said the map proves Iowan women will not go underserved if SF 2 is passed.

“We already have a pretty good infrastructure in place. It’s just a matter of ramping up and [having] some of the federally qualified entities provide things that the others don’t provide,” Oberlin said. “We’ve heard all those arguments about family-planning and health care, and we do not think it’s appropriate for our tax money to support any entity that takes innocent human life.”

But Connie Ryan, the executive director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, said the bill threatens a woman’s right to choose her health-care provider and unfairly limits the range of services available to her.

“If you look at the numbers, 77 percent [of Iowans] support funding Planned Parenthood and family-planning services,” she said. “The only reason the bill is being put forward is because conservatives want to defund Planned Parenthood. It is unwise, because women across the state of Iowa use Planned Parenthood for their family planning needs. In addition, that network and that program has really reduced unintended pregnancies and therefore abortions.”