Kansas is cutting off Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood's regional affiliate, a health department spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday, with the action based largely on allegations against the abortion provider's affiliates in other states.
The state Department of Health and Environment sent a letter Tuesday to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, saying that the organization was being terminated as a provider under the state's Medicaid program as of next week, agency spokeswoman Cassie Sparks said.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri called the action "outrageous," but documents obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request show that KDHE first informed the affiliate that it planned to end its status as a Medicaid provider in March. The group had the right to challenge the decision, and Sparks said an administrative hearing was held last week.
Federal courts have blocked attempts to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood in other states, including Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana and Utah. Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is a vocal abortion opponent, and the state already has blocked the regional Planned Parenthood affiliate from receiving about $370,000 a year in federal family planning dollars for non-abortion services.
The state has given several reasons why it is cutting the Planned Parenthood affiliate from Medicaid money. A March 10 letter from a state official cited a dispute over an inspection of clinic in Overland Park, but also noted allegations lodged against affiliates in Oklahoma and Texas. It also cited videos secretly recorded and released last year by an anti-abortion group that show Planned Parenthood officials elsewhere talking about the handling of fetal tissues, saying the regional organization is affiliated with the national one and "abides by the medical and operational standards of the national organization."
National officials for Planned Parenthood contend the videos were selectively edited as part of a smear campaign. Brownback last year directed the state Board of Healing Arts to investigate whether commercial fetal tissue sales were occurring in Kansas, then accused Planned Parenthood publicly of "trafficking" in "baby body parts."
The regional affiliate doesn't have a program for legal fetal tissue donations, and an attorney for the Kansas medical board said in a January letter that no action would be taken. Two anti-abortion activists involved in the videos have been indicted on criminal charges in Texas.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President and CEO Laura McQuade said in a statement Wednesday that stripping it of Medicaid funding is "an outrageous attempt by Governor Brownback to punish the women and men who have freely chosen Planned Parenthood for their health care for decades."
It has clinics in Overland Park and Wichita. The Overland Park clinic performs abortions, but the group has said Medicaid funds only cover services such as health exams, family planning services, and breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment. The group has said it received about $61,000 in reimbursements for the state fiscal year ending with June 2015.
The March 10 letter from KDHE was sent to Planned Parenthood the day after an AP story noted that Brownback's administration hadn't yet acted. That letter also cited concerns about Medicaid claims and overbilling raised publicly in November by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, another anti-abortion Republican. Oklahoma plans to cut off Medicaid funds to two Planned Parenthood affiliates on June 29.
Also, according to last month's letter, the Overland Park clinic refused in December to let a department official complete an inspection of its handling of solid waste. The letter said such a "lack of cooperation" raises concerns about potential violations, but acknowledged that Planned Parenthood cited concerns about patients' privacy. Sparks said the inspection was completed in January.