S.C. aims to bar abortion providers from Medicaid family-planning program
South Carolina wants to launch a new family planning program that excludes providers that perform abortions or are affiliated with ones that do from receiving Medicaid funds.
The state's proposed Medicaid waiver posted Monday would also limit access to providers who don't have the capability to offer a full range of care to Medicaid enrollees.
South Carolina "seeks to implement a more comprehensive set of provider qualifications to ensure that those providers engaged in the delivery of the (program) are able to adequately care for the overall health needs of the Medicaid members they serve," the waiver said.
The state estimates that 1.2 million individuals annually will receive care under the new program.
In order to be eligible for the family planning program, providers must be able to perform family planning care and treat diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and depression. Providers must also be able to care for substance use disorders or have established relationships with treatment centers to facilitate referral.
Sue Berkowitz, executive director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, said she is worried how the waiver could affect access to care in rural areas of the state, which may not have a provider that meets all those requirements.
"To limit who gets to provide this care is ridiculous," Berkowitz said.
She also questioned the logic of excluding providers that perform abortions or are affiliated with groups that do. Medicaid doesn't cover the procedure except in the case of rape or incest, per federal law.
Republican Gov. Henry McMaster may use the waiver to shore up his base before his November re-election battle, Berkowitz said.
McMaster in speeches vowed to do what he could to cut revenue streams for abortion providers. Earlier this month, he slashed $16 million from the state budget to prevent taxpayer dollars from directly or indirectly subsidizing abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.
Tennessee and Texas also have pending waivers that seek to exclude abortion providers or their affiliated from their Medicaid programs.
South Carolina is taking comments on its waiver through Aug. 22 and plans to submit its request to the CMS later this year.
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