New rule protects Planned Parenthood funding at state level

The Obama administration on Wednesday released a long-awaited regulation that bars states from defunding Planned Parenthood for political reasons.
The rule comes after more than a dozen GOP governors and state legislatures have attempted to block Medicaid funding from going toward Planned Parenthood clinics in their state.
Nearly all the defunding actions have been challenged in court, and many have already been struck down, including in Ohio, Mississippi and Arkansas.
{mosads}Dr. Karen Scott, the chief medical officer at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said the rule “clarifies that all organizations able to provide these services should be eligible to compete for funds.”
Republican lawmakers have attacked Planned Parenthood clinics across the country — even those that do not provide abortion. Even in clinics that do provide abortions, they cannot legally use federal or state dollars to fund or advocate for the procedure. 
Federal officials have repeatedly warned states that they cannot legally cut off funding to any provider, including family planning clinics, for reasons other than the provider’s ability to perform medical procedures.
The final rule comes weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who is widely expected to crack down on Planned Parenthood funding next year.  
Republican leaders in Congress are already eying legislative language to defund the organization in a spending bill next year.
The funding is part of an HHS program called Title X family planning grants, which give money for services ranging from infertility counseling to STD testing. Planned Parenthood is the country’s largest recipient of the grants.
The GOP will likely roll back this rule early next year under the Congressional Review Act, which creates a hold period of 60 legislative days on the president’s regulations.
The rule does not specifically mention Planned Parenthood, though a statement from HHS mentions that states have attempted to “restrict participation by certain types of providers” for reasons “unrelated to the provider’s ability to provide family planning services.”
“This has caused limitations in the geographic distribution of services and decreased access to services,” HHS wrote in a statement.
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