wisconsin capitol
Column
January 26, 2017

Sean Duffy, Paul Ryan and Congressional Republicans Poised to Prevent Wisconsinites From Choosing Their Own Health Care Provider

If You Want to Keep Your Doctor, You Better Hope Your Provider Passes the Political Litmus Test of U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy

If you want to keep your doctor and your health plan you better hope your provider passes the political litmus test of U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy and his fellow Congressional Republicans in Washington D.C., because once again, they are inserting their judgements and partisanship into decisions that should be made between doctors and their patients.

This time it’s Duffy and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan proposing to prevent Americans using Medicaid from receiving services from Planned Parenthood. While many refer to this as “defunding Planned Parenthood,” let’s call this what it is, denying Americans the ability to use their insurance to get health care services from the provider of their choice.

The federal government does not just give Planned Parenthood a block of money to operate their clinics. Instead, they receive reimbursement for the services they provide to patients, just like any other health care provider. Passing a law to prevent a particular provider from being reimbursed by Medicaid for the services they provide means low income people in our state would not be able to use their insurance at Planned Parenthood.

Now that Republicans are in control of all levers of the federal government this is not just another of the 60-plus stunt repeals of the Affordable Care Act. It is a very real possibility with very real consequences, a cruel and devastating impact on tens of thousands of Wisconsinites who would lose their ability to access essential preventative and diagnostic care. According to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, 50,000 of their 60,000 patients have all or part of their services covered by Medicaid.

And let’s be clear what kind of health care services are being provided and would be taken away. It is already well established that no federal money can go toward abortion services. Instead, Republicans are talking about ending preventative health care services like birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, well woman exams and sex education.

For the people who could be impacted it is not just a case of simply finding another provider in town. The reality is that the safety net in Wisconsin is a patchwork, 50 percent of the Wisconsin counties served by Planned Parenthood will have no alternative provider to turn to if their clinics close. In other cases, other area providers will not have the capacity, or the interest, in absorbing additional Medicaid patients.

Without any ready provider able to address patients health care needs, the Republicans’ plan to prevent Medicaid from reimbursing Planned Parenthood would put Wisconsinites health and lives at risk. And it sets a dangerous precedent of the government preventing you from receiving care with your doctor of choice just because those in control of the government don’t like your doctor’s office.

What the Duffy, Ryan and the Republican cabal in Washington D.C. are doing is not defunding Planned Parenthood. They are carrying out a political agenda and trying to eliminate an organization with which they disagree. They are inserting their judgement and biases into decisions that ought to be made between patients and medical professionals. And they are taking away the ability of Americans to get the health care services they need from the provider of their choice.

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Jenni Dye is the research director of One Wisconsin Now & the Institute, and is the former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin.

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