January 9, 2015
"Five States Allow Women's Health Medicaid Programs To Lapse," Dori Molozanov, Penn Program on Regulation's "RegBlog": Molozanov writes that the expiration of some Medicaid waiver programs at the end of 2014 means that "[w]omen in five states" -- Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon and Pennsylvania -- "may be without affordable access to important health and family planning services, including routine cancer screenings and contraception." She explains that the states "chose not to ask CMS to renew" their Medicaid waiver programs, which allow states to "test new means of delivering health coverage under Medicaid, or to expand coverage to individuals who would not otherwise be eligible under federal law." The states' programs varied but generally had allowed them to offer no- or "low-cost reproductive services" to "women with incomes that do not exceed a certain amount above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but who do not qualify for [traditional] Medicaid." Of the five states, all but Louisiana have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), meaning that some "former beneficiaries of waiver programs in those states will likely receive the same low-cost services under Medicaid." However, they will "not be automatically transferred [to the program] and ... must reapply," and former participants who live in Louisiana or who exceed the income threshold for Medicaid eligibility must find other options. According to Molozanov, women's health advocates have expressed concern that "cancelling waiver programs and requiring women to reapply for health insurance will create gaps in coverage and leave many low-income women without necessary reproductive services" (Molozanov, "RegBlog," Penn Program on Regulation, 1/7).
"Fifth Circuit Panel Peppers Attorneys With Tough Questions on Texas Abortion Law," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Grimes recaps Wednesday's oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over the constitutionality of parts of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) that could shutter many of the state's remaining abortion clinics if implemented. She writes, "Three issues appeared time and time again during the arguments," including whether the appeals court "should apply a 'rational basis' standard to evaluating the constitutionality of HB 2"; "whether the state could defend HB 2 as medically necessary while also suggesting that El Pasoans who are unable to travel to the interior of the state should simply drive into nearby New Mexico, where abortion restrictions are much looser"; and "whether established numerical parameters" -- such as driving distance to an abortion facility -- "could or should be established as automatic proof of an undue burden." She notes that the results of the trial "could direct the course of abortion-related law" across the U.S. as the country enacts "ever more onerous restrictions" on providers and as the Supreme Court mulls reviewing cases that "have been winding their way" through the lower courts (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 1/7).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "4 Reasons Why the 5th Circuit Could Change Their Minds on the Texas Abortion Law," Robin Marty, Care2.