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House votes to exclude abortion providers from Medicaid

The House passed legislation on Tuesday to give states flexibility to withhold Medicaid funding from health providers that offer abortions.

Passage of the bill on a 236-193 vote is timed as conservatives demand to defund Planned Parenthood amid tension surrounding its use of fetal tissue donations.

Within a day, the House is expected to clear a government spending bill lasting through Dec. 11 that’s free of policy riders as soon as the Senate passes it. The federal government will shut down Oct. 1 absent congressional action.

{mosads}Current law already prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, with exceptions for rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.

But the legislation passed on Tuesday would expand states’ ability to terminate Medicaid contracts with individuals or health entities that perform abortions. However, the flexibility would not apply to health providers that only offer abortions to cases of rape, incest or protecting the mother’s life, as outlined by statute known as the Hyde Amendment.

“There are no mandates in this bill. The final decision is up to the states,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

Earlier this month, the House passed a measure to freeze federal Planned Parenthood funding for one year while Congress conducts an investigation.

Senate Democrats blocked a spending bill that included a provision eliminating Planned Parenthood last week, which in turn led to considering a version free of policy riders.

Democrats noted that the House had not yet voted on the spending bill, yet was debating another abortion-related measure.

“Let’s call this bill what it is. It’s an attempt to eliminate health care services for women across the board using the Planned Parenthood witch hunt as an excuse,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.). 

Tags Marsha Blackburn Medicaid Planned Parenthood

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