Special status under Medicaid
Family planning services have a special status under Medicaid, notes Judith Solomon, co-director of Health Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC.
"First, the federal government pays 90% of the cost, regardless of the state's regular matching rate," she says. Second, the Medicaid statute includes a provision stating that beneficiaries are free to choose among qualified providers of family planning services who are participating in the program, Ms. Solomon adds.
"While the 'free choice' provision can be waived for state managed care programs that restrict beneficiaries to a specified network of providers, there is an exception for family planning services," she says.
Even under a managed care waiver, beneficiaries must have the ability to choose any qualified provider of family planning services willing to serve Medicaid beneficiaries, explains Ms. Solomon.
"Excluding family planning providers based solely on the fact they provide abortion services, which are not covered under Medicaid except in very restricted circumstances, is in direct conflict with the guarantee of freedom of choice of family planning providers," Ms. Solomon says.