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BREAKING: Obama admin warns states that defunding Planned Parenthood violates federal law

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Obama administration is warning states that defunding Planned Parenthood may violate federal law, in a new letter released this morning.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to states on Tuesday saying that, under federal law, Medicaid recipients have the right to receive services from any qualified health care provider, including Planned Parenthood.

“Providing the full range of women’s health services” – the administration's term for abortion – “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,” the CMS directive states, “and shall not be grounds for a state’s action against a provider in the Medicaid program.”

That is a pointed rebuke to the efforts undertaken by 10 states to deny state funding to the nation's leading abortion provider in the wake of undercover video footage showing high-ranking officials in Planned Parenthood discussing the harvesting, procurement, and remuneration they expected to receive for aborted babies' organs and tissue.

Pro-life advocates say this is another example of special treatment accorded to Planned Parenthood, a major fundraiser for Obama and Hillary Clinton.

“In the last two decades or so, about 9,000 providers [were] excluded from Medicaid. In most of those cases, they're completely uncontroversial,” Casey Mattox of the Alliance Defending Freedom has testified. “When it's Planned Parenthood, however, you have the Centers for Medicaid Services reinterpret the Medicaid statute to deny states the opportunity to exclude those providers."

Officials in the 10 states that have denied Planned Parenthood funding argue that community health care providers outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities and are capable of providing women's health care without the ethical qualms of underwriting abortion.

The letter appears designed to pressure those states to reverse policy and restore Planned Parenthood funding.

Drying up that revenue source would cut sharply into Planned Parenthood's bottom line. Elizabeth Nash, a senior associate at the Guttmacher Institute, has said, “Medicaid is by far the largest source of family planning funds in this country.”

The nation's largest abortion provider testified before the House of Representatives that it receives 41 percent of its total funding from taxpayers, largely from family planning programs, although Medicaid funds some abortions.

Planned Parenthood, which performed 323,999 abortions, received $553.7 million from U.S. taxpayers during the 2014-2015 fiscal year, according to its most recent annual report. That's an increase in funding over the previous year, when it received $528.4 million in taxpayer funds.

The Obama administration has taken efforts to keep funds flowing to Planned Parenthood in the past.

In 2013, the Obama administration sidestepped Texas law and gave $13 million in Title X funding directly to a coalition of abortion providers than included Planned Parenthood. The administration has funded Planned Parenthood directly in defiance of state legislators' wishes in Tennessee, North Carolina, and New Hampshire.

It has also continually warned states against legislation that would remove Planned Parenthood as an approved Medicaid recipient and punished states that went ahead with such measures.

In 2015, the Obama administration reduced federal funding to Kansas by $370,000 – the amount of money the state denied Planned Parenthood. 

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