Tying ObamaCare repeal to Planned Parenthood worries some in GOP


Some congressional Republicans think tying the defunding of Planned Parenthood to an ObamaCare repeal bill could jeopardize the healthcare law rollback that they’ve been working on for eight years.

“I don’t think it makes sense to have the defunding of Planned Parenthood linked to this issue at all,” said Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who voted against the repeal effort in 2015 because it included language defunding Planned Parenthood.

“If the House Republicans want to bring it up, it should be in a separate bill. I would oppose that bill, but it further complicates the negotiations to have it included in this bill.” 

{mosads}Republicans have fought for years to cut off Planned Parenthood’s funding because it provides abortions.

Now with Republican majorities in Congress and a Republican president, the party faces its best chance to do it. 

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said earlier this year that Planned Parenthood would be defunded in the same bill as the ObamaCare repeal. 

A draft of the ObamaCare repeal that leaked last week shows that Republicans may use the same language they did in the 2015 bill, which would block Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers for a year.

While existing law already prevents federal money from going toward abortion funding, Republicans want to stop the organization from receiving federal reimbursements for non-abortion women’s health services it provides. 

But some Republicans say tying Planned Parenthood to the ObamaCare bill could put the repeal at risk. 

“I think we should also separate out the Planned Parenthood issue from the broader healthcare issue. I think healthcare reform is controversial and complex enough without Planned Parenthood. Why put it in? It makes this whole exercise more difficult,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.)

Slim majorities in the Senate mean that nearly every Republican has to be on the same page before they vote on the repeal bill. 

But divisions have already emerged on a number of issues among Republicans, including whether refundable tax credits for insurance purchases should be offered and if the federal government should continue to fund ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. 

Because Republicans are going to repeal ObamaCare through reconciliation, a special budget maneuver that only needs 50 votes to pass because it can’t be filibustered, they can only lose two votes from their members.  

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican from Alaska, has already said definitively she won’t support repeal if it includes Planned Parenthood language.  

“I, for one, do not believe that Planned Parenthood has any place in our deliberations on the Affordable Care Act,” she said to Alaska state lawmakers last week.  

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay for abortions, but I will not vote to deny Alaskans access to the health services that Planned Parenthood provides.”

Murkowski and Collins offered an amendment in 2015 to try to protect the organization’s funding, but it was shot down. Collins’ office would not say if she planned to offer a similar amendment this year. 

The 2015 repeal bill eventually passed, with Murkowski voting in favor, but President Obama vetoed it. 

Leaked audio from the GOP’s retreat last month also showed Republicans in the House worrying about the issue in private.

“We are just walking into a gigantic political trap if we go down this path of sticking Planned Parenthood in the health insurance bill,” said Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.).

“If you want to do it somewhere else, I have no problem, but I think we are creating a political minefield for ourselves — House and Senate.”

Republicans have already taken their first shots at the organization, passing a bill in the House that would roll back an Obama-era regulation that banned states from denying funds to Planned Parenthood and other organizations for political reasons.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood activists are storming Capitol Hill to pressure lawmakers to reconsider.

This week, activists visited 100 Republican offices on the Hill, according to Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. 

“What Speaker Ryan is actually saying is women in America can no longer choose the healthcare provider they want to,” Richards said. 

“We’re simply saying women should have the same rights as members of Congress — the right to choose a healthcare provider that provides them high-quality, affordable care in their community.” 

Ryan’s office noted that Republicans wants to redirect Planned Parenthood funding to community health centers. 

The 2015 repeal bill passed by Congress would have redirected $500 million to community health centers. 

At a Planned Parenthood rally this week, Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to keep the organization funded, even though Democrats are in the minority. 

“We Senate Democrats will not let any legislation that cuts back on Planned Parenthood pass. Period.”  

Tags Charles Schumer Lisa Murkowski Paul Ryan Susan Collins

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