Health care providers that offer elective abortions in Tennessee could soon face the loss of Medicaid funding.
The bill asks the federal government to give Tennessee permission to essentially cut off TennCare funding to any clinics that perform 50 or more elective abortions a year.
The actual votes took place weeks ago, but on Wednesday Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed it into law.
House Bill 2251 say it’s against Tennessee policy to use state funds to promote or support elective abortions. The bill calls for the state to get a federal waiver to exclude any providers from TennCare reimbursements, if the funds could directly or indirectly promote support elective abortions.
In March, the Senate passed the legislation. Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, said he found nearly $1 million in the form of TennCare reimbursement was sent to abortion clinics in Tennessee in the last 6 years.
“This money is a form of supporting abortions,” Bell said.
A statement, Sen. Yarbro, D-Nashville, disagreed with. He said the cut in reimbursements would have a negative impact on providers of women’s health services.
“Why would we want to limit and cut back on the number of providers where women can get a well-woman visit and actually have those screenings,” Fargo said.
Treva Parham, communications and special projects manager of Planned Parenthood for Middle and East Tennessee, said there are numerous patients who travel from Johnson City to Knoxville for treatment.
“Patients should be able to go to the provider of their choice, the state, the federal government,” Parham said. “As long as these are qualified health centers, there is no reason they should not be able to go to them.”
Lawmakers who voted to defund said there were other options available for women needing non-abortion related care, something officials from Planned Parenthood disagreed with.
“A lot of times they are booked and even times they will say they aren’t taking new patients,” Parham said. “So if someone has a certain condition that they need to get into the doctor right away, that don’t have that opportunity.”
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, said he thinks clinics that perform abortions should be excluded from state funding.
“There is no reason any tax dollars need to go to a facility that does something like that,” Faison said. “There are multiple facilities in every community in Tennessee that also do all types of medical needs for women.”
Faison said he thinks there is a problem with sending taxpayer funds to clinics that perform abortions.
“You hear how mad the liberals are right now, that the NRA gives money to candidates and politicians, see how much Planned Parenthood gives to members of Congress and the Tennessee General Assembly,” Faison said. “Planned Parenthood donates heavily to the campaigns of liberal legislatures. They give a greater number than the NRA gives, financially.”