Why So Much Attention Paid to Planned Parenthood?

I’ve been wondering why so much attention has been paid, and continues to be paid by legislators and members of the general public, to Planned Parenthood.

Doctors affiliated with Planned Parenthood perform many services for women and men: cancer screenings, often in the form of Pap smear tests for women; prescriptions for birth control in many forms for women (prescriptions for the Pill and prescription/insertion of IUDs, for example); STD testing for diseases such as chlamydia, syphilis, AIDS, and gonorrhea for both women and men; pelvic examinations for women, well baby care, treatment for endometriosis for women, and abortion services.

How are doctors affiliated with Planned Parenthood paid for these services? They’re paid through various methods: payment for services directly by patients; payment through insurance companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Humana, AETNA, and others; payment through government taxes via benefit programs such as Medicaid (for women and men who meet economic eligibility requirements) and Medicare (for women and men who meet Medicare eligibility requirements).

The exception to this payment or reimbursement for services model concerns abortion services; abortion services are not paid for through government programs (Medicare and Medicaid, in most cases).  If a doctor affiliated with Planned Parenthood submits a request for payment/reimbursement for an abortion for a patient covered by Medicare or Medicaid, that request for payment/reimbursement will be denied and the doctor will not be paid/reimbursed for abortion.

But, if a person visits a doctor affiliated with Blue Cross, or AETNA, or another insurance company, and receives abortion services, those services will be paid for by the insurance company (as long as abortion services are covered through the insurance plan of the patient). Why are the anti-Planned Parenthood people NOT jumping up and down about abortion services paid for by other insurance plans?  Why do these people get all excited about abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood-affiliated doctors, but why do they not care one bit about abortion services paid for by Blue Cross, or AETNA, or Humana? Why do they only care about abortion services provided through Planned Parenthood, although the costs could be paid for through insurance companies such as Blue Cross, or AETNA, or Humana, or Anthem?

Planned Parenthood-affiliated doctors will be reimbursed for other reproductive health services provided to patients covered through Medicare or Medicaid. Doctors affiliated with Planned Parenthood can receive payment or reimbursement for abortion services through private insurance programs, such as those provided by Blue Cross, AETNA, etc., as long as those plans cover abortion services, which the majority do cover, in the same way that those insurance programs cover costs related to STD testing, birth control, and other doctor and hospital reproductive health procedures, services and prescriptions.

By the way, it’s not possible to “defund” Planned Parenthood, since there is no federal or state line item in a budget called “Planned Parenthood;” it’s impossible to simply strike out funding for that line item and leave all other health care payments or reimbursements through insurance companies or Medicare or Medicaid intact.

So, given this, why is so much attention paid to trying to “defund” Planned Parenthood, or otherwise make it difficult for Planned Parenthood to provide services to people? In many communities, such as Speaker Paul Ryan’s district in Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider of its type (community public health) available to citizens in that district. There are not many other options available to people for reproductive health services, despite what legislators would like to have people believe. In some areas, there are no other options available (the situation in Ryan’s district in Wisconsin).



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