Republicans used to take credit for being fiscally responsible. In recent years, however, they’ve started to spend lots of taxpayer money on ideological gestures without getting much of anything in return. The sad thing is that GOPers, along with everybody else, probably know that they’re wasting money, but they can’t resist the pander credits that they hope to gain.
The latest boondoggle could be state Senator Kurt Schaefer’s (R-19) efforts to remove Planned Parenthood allocations from Medicaid federal funds. The pander credits he is trying to amass, as everyone agrees, are to be applied to his campaign for the office of attorney general:
… Schaefer leads a charge to punish Planned Parenthood for alleged traffic in human parts gleaned from aborted fetuses. […] The issue of how Planned Parenthood handles fetal remains stems from a thoroughly discredited video shot under cover and heavily edited to show an agency official discussing a possible legal sale of fetal material to a person claiming to be a possible buyer. A later investigation by the Missouri attorney general’s office found no wrongdoing. Two activists involved in making the video are under indictment by a grand jury in Texas.Schaefer is head of the Missouri Senate committee investigating Planned Parenthood, a role he apparently covets as part of his campaign [for the office of attorney general].
Apropos a subpoena issued to the CEO of the Missouri Planned Parenthood:
Ironically, it might not matter much from an election politics standpoint what Schaefer’s committee can learn from an appearance by the Planned Parenthood CEO. Merely having her under attack for several days will solidify the chairman’s bulldog bona fides.
Just to be clear, as Think Progress notes:
Planned Parenthood does not use federal funding to provide abortions — thanks to the Hyde amendment, taxpayer dollars have been illegal to use to provide abortion services for decades (except in very rare cases such as danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest). Instead, federal funding, like that from Medicaid, goes to provide family planning services like birth control, STD testing, and cancer screenings for patients who normally wouldn’t have access to these services.
Missouri is not alone in efforts to gain right-wing brownie points by crippling Planned Parenthood. It is one of twenty-four states proposing to cut the agency’s funding from Medicaid in spite of background rumblings to the effect that such efforts are likely to face legal challenges. In an April 19 letter addressed to the Medicaid Director of each of the fifty states, the Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services raises the pitch (pdf) of previous warnings:
Pursuant to § 431.51(b)(1)(i), states may establish provider standards or take action against Medicaid providers that affects beneficiary access to those providers only (1) based on reasons relating to the fitness of the provider to perform covered medical services or to appropriately bill for those services, and (2) with supporting evidence of the provider’s failure to meet the state’s reasonable provider standards. This is consistent with longstanding CMS policy that Medicaid beneficiaries are provided with competent care by qualified providers and have the same ability to choose among available providers as those with private coverage.Providing the full range of women’s health services neither disqualifies a provider from participating in the Medicaid program, nor is the provision of such services inconsistent with the best interests of the beneficiary, and shall not be grounds for a state’s action against a provider in the Medicaid program.
Can you, like me, see losing lawsuits in the offing if Missouri goes ahead with efforts to cut funding to Planned Parenthood? And we all know who will pay to defend the meaningless showboating of Senator Schafer and his pals. I wonder if the majority of Missourians, apart from anti-abortion hysterics, really want to go out-of-pocket to finance Kurt Schaefer’s political ambitions? Especially when there are so many things the state needs -decent roads and schools, for example – that Schaefer and his pals tell us we cannot afford?