Open Letter to Speaker Paul Ryan

Add your voice as an attorney in Wisconsin to implore Speaker Ryan to withdraw the proposal to block medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood. 

Lawyers Call on Speaker Ryan to Withdraw Proposal To Block Medicaid Reimbursements to Planned Parenthood

As attorneys in the state of Wisconsin, we call upon Speaker Paul Ryan to respect the laws and individual freedoms of our country. Speaker Ryan’s proposal to “defund” Planned Parenthood by excluding its health centers from the Medicaid program conflicts with federal law, American values and common sense. Planned Parenthood health centers provide essential preventive care like birth control, STD testing and treatment and cancer screenings. They bill Medicaid based on services provided, just like any other doctor’s office bills any other insurance program. Abortion services are not reimbursed under Medicaid--the care we are talking about is basic health care we should all be able to agree is important to a healthy community and country. 

Free Choice of Provider

Medicaid exists to ensure that Americans who are struggling to make ends meet can access the care they need to be healthy, productive members of society. Federal law guarantees individuals enrolled in Medicaid insurance the freedom to choose any qualified provider willing to provide the care they need. Speaker Ryan talks about “defunding” Planned Parenthood, but it is important to remember who will actually be hurt by his proposal: the women, men and teens who rely on Planned Parenthood for their health care. In Wisconsin alone, Planned Parenthood sees 60,000 patients every year. 50,000 of those 60,000 are Medicaid eligible. These people will lose access to their current provider and will be denied the freedom the law gives them to choose a convenient, quality provider they trust. 

Protected Constitutional Activity

Speaker Ryan says his issue with Planned Parenthood is all about abortion. We acknowledge that abortion is an emotionally complicated issue for many people, and that we may not always agree about deeply personal decisions like this. But the reimbursements under Medicaid that Speaker Ryan would bar do not go to abortions services. We are talking about basic preventive care: birth control, STD testing and cancer screenings. In Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood provides privately-funded abortion care at 2 of its 21 health centers. This care is protected by the Constitution, as the U.S. Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade and many subsequent cases. As lawyers, we know that Congress can’t exclude Planned Parenthood from a government program like Medicaid because of unrelated, constitutionally-protected activities. 

When Lawmakers Put Politics Ahead of Constitutional Freedoms, Taxpayers Pay the Price

We’ve seen what happens when lawmakers enact restrictions that violate the Constitution. Just last summer, a federal judge ordered the State to pay $1.6 million dollars in attorneys’ fees to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and another health care provider after these organizations successfully sued to block an unconstitutional restriction on abortion access. Wisconsin taxpayers were forced to foot the bill for both sides of this lawsuit. In a time when we’ve barely recovered from a recession, our country doesn’t have money to waste. We ask Speaker Ryan to respect constitutional freedoms and avoid unnecessary litigation that leaves health care hanging in the balance. 

Access to Preventive Health Care is Vital to the Communities We Serve

Finally, we wish to remind Speaker Ryan that as a service profession, we see first-hand the struggles of the communities we serve. When Wisconsin families do better, we all do better. Access to health care is essential for Wisconsin communities to thrive. We urge the Speaker to work on behalf of his constituents and all Wisconsinites to increase access to life-saving preventative care and to stop playing politics with our health care. 


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