On the June 6 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund spread falsehoods to defend a recent Indiana law that bans state Medicaid money from going to non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood. Fund falsely claimed that Indiana “has the right to decide” whether to contract with Planned Parenthood for Medicaid services and that Planned Parenthood “counselors advis[ed] underage teenage girls who were supposedly sex workers on how to have an abortion.”
Fund Defends Indiana Law Banning State Funding For Planned Parenthood
Fund: “Indiana Has The Right” To Decide “Who The State ... Wants To Contract With” For Medicaid. During a May 6 interview on Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fund defended an Indiana statute forbidding state money -- including money appropriated by the state as part of the Medicaid program -- to clinics that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. From the interview:
BILL HEMMER (co-host): So you say this should not even be an issue, why not?
FUND: Well, look, this is Medicaid. It's a state-run program with federal dollars thrown into it. As far as I'm concerned, the state of Indiana has the right to decide. You know, Planned Parenthood has had some scandals recently. They had ACORN-style sting videos that were released last year, where in several Planned Parenthood offices in New Jersey and other places you had Planned Parenthood counselors advising underage teenage girls who were supposedly sex workers on how to have an abortion. So Planned Parenthood is under some scrutiny here, so Indiana has decided we don't want anything to do with this. My view is the federal government wants to fund Planned Parenthood, it can do so through a separate appropriation. When it partnered with the state of Indiana it left the running of the Medicaid program with the state of Indiana and that includes who the state of Indian wants to contract with, I think. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/6/11]
Indiana Does Not Have “The Right To Decide” Whether To Give Medicaid Funds To Planned Parenthood
Federal Medicaid Law Allows Beneficiaries To Obtain Care At “Any Institution ... Qualified To Perform The Service Or Services Required.” Contrary to Fund's assertion that Indiana “has the right to decide” whether to contract with Planned Parenthood for Medicaid services, the federal law that created Medicaid specifies that states cannot restrict beneficiaries choice of health care providers:
A State plan for medical assistance must --
(23) provide that
(A) any individual eligible for medical assistance (including drugs) may obtain such assistance from any institution, agency, community pharmacy, or person, qualified to perform the service or services required (including an organization which provides such services, or arranges for their availability, on a prepayment basis), who undertakes to provide him such services, and
(B) an enrollment of an individual eligible for medical assistance in a primary care case-management system (described in section 1396n (b)(1) of this title), a medicaid managed care organization, or a similar entity shall not restrict the choice of the qualified person from whom the individual may receive services under section 1396d (a)(4)(C) of this title, except as provided in subsection (g) of this section, in section 1396n of this title, and in section 1396u-2 (a) of this title, except that this paragraph shall not apply in the case of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam, and except that nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as requiring a State to provide medical assistance for such services furnished by a person or entity convicted of a felony under Federal or State law for an offense which the State agency determines is inconsistent with the best interests of beneficiaries under the State plan. [42 U.S.C. § 1396a, accessed 6/7/11, via Law.Cornell.edu]
CMS Administrator Berwick: Indiana Law Defunding Planned Parenthood “Does Not Comply With The Requirements” Of Medicaid Law. In a June 1 letter to Patricia Casanova, the director of the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning in Indiana, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Donald Berwick noted that the Indiana law's attempt to bar residents from receiving care from Planned Parenthood through Medicaid violated federal law. Berwick explained that “Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider's scope of practice.” [Letter from CMS administrator Donald Berwick, 6/1/11, via The Huffington Post]
Federal Government Provides More Than 70 Percent Of Funding For Indiana's Medicaid Program
Kaiser Family Foundation: Federal Government Provided 73.5 Percent Of Indiana's Medicaid Funding In Fiscal Year 2009. Fund characterized the Medicaid program as “a state-run program with federal dollars thrown into it.” In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's StateHealthFacts.org website, in fiscal year 2009, the federal share of Indiana's Medicaid spending was 73.5 percent, with the federal government spending more than $4.3 billion on Indiana's Medicaid program while the state of Indiana spent more than $1.5 billion. [Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 6/7/11]
Fund Cites Discredited Live Action Planned Parenthood Sex Worker Sting Videos
Fund Suggest Planned Parenthood Counselors Are “Advising” Supposed “Underage, Teenage” “Sex Workers” On Having Abortions. Fund claimed that Planned Parenthood is “under scrutiny” because “ACORN-style sting videos” were released showing “Planned Parenthood counselors advising underage teenage girls who were supposedly sex workers on how to have an abortion.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/6/11]
In Fact, The Videos In Question Have Been Widely Discredited. The videos in question -- which involved a fake pimp and prostitute going to Planned Parenthood clinics to discuss medical care for the supposed underage prostitutes under their control -- have been widely discredited. The vast majority of the videos showed no wrongdoing, and all were selectively edited. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood fired the one employee acting improperly in one of the videos upon reviewing the full version of the footage. [Media Matters, 2/4/11, 2/4/11]
Before Videos Were Even Released, Planned Parenthood Asked Justice Department To Investigate The Incidents. Fund did not note that before any of the videos in question were released, Planned Parenthood Federation of America contacted Attorney General Eric Holder to report a possible multistate sex trafficking scheme based on visits by a person purporting to be a pimp of underage girls to several Planned Parenthood clinics. From a Planned Parenthood Federation of America press release:
Last week, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) alerted federal authorities to a potential multistate sex trafficking ring. Over a five day period, visitors to Planned Parenthood health centers in six states said they were seeking information from Planned Parenthood about health services Planned Parenthood could provide to underage girls who were part of a sex trafficking ring. Subsequent to alerting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Planned Parenthood learned the identify of one of those involved and believes these visits are likely a hoax by opponents of legal abortion seeking to discredit Planned Parenthood, which delivers preventive health care and abortion services to three million women each year.
Men, sometimes accompanied by a woman, have visited at least 11 Planned Parenthood health centers in six states within a one-week time frame. During their visits, they claimed to be involved in sex trafficking of teens, some of whom are in the United States illegally. These men appeared at health centers without appointments and said that they were seeking health services for themselves, but they quickly turned the conversation to the sex ring they said they were managing.
“When Planned Parenthood learns of an operation that exploits young women, we vigilantly work with law enforcement authorities to uncover and stop this abhorrent activity,” said Stuart Schear, PPFA vice president for communications. “Planned Parenthood's top priority is the health and safety of our patients and the health and well-being of women and teens across the country, and we have been in contact with federal and local authorities to identify the persons involved in these visits.” [PlannedParenthood.org, 1/24/11, emphasis original]
Planned Parenthood Fired Person In Video Who Acted Unprofessionally. Planned Parenthood has not condoned employees who appeared willing to help the fake pimp in his purported scheme. Rather, Planned Parenthood has done precisely the opposite. As The New York Times reported, Planned Parenthood fired the one employee who actually appeared to give business advice to a fake pimp. [The New York Times, 2/8/11]
Other Than The One Employee Who Was Fired, Planned Parenthood Employees Acted Appropriately. As Media Matters has noted, apart from the one Planned Parenthood employee who was fired, the employees in the videos in question acted responsibly. Indeed, in one of the videos, an employee at a Planned Parenthood in Falls Church, Virginia, tells the fake pimp that clinics are required to report incidents of suspected statutory rape. [Media Matters, 3/3/11]