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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

 3:53 PM 

Senate approves bill that would raise cost of birth control drugs Planned Parenthood receives through Medicaid

The Senate approved along party lines legislation that would result in raising the costs of birth control drugs Planned Parenthood receives through Medicaid.

Dems decried it as unconstitutional because it would treat Planned Parenthood differently from other groups that dispense the drugs through Medicaid’s 340B program. The bill, approved 18-14, would require groups to bill Medicaid the actual cost, plus a standard dispensing fee, for the drugs. Doing so would cost Planned Parenthood an estimate $4 million annually.

When the bill was introduced, some Republicans feared it would impact local health clinics as well as Planned Parenthood, which has been targeted by the GOP following a series of videos released last year. But the legislation was amended Wednesday to apply on to abortion providers and their affiliates.

“I think we all know that this bill is dealing specifically with an organization called Planned Parenthood,” said co-author Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield. “There isn’t any debate about that.”

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee and an attorney, said there is a constitutional problem with singling out the organization so that it is treated differently under the Medicaid program compared to others. 

“I would argue that it may even be seen as vindictive legislation in a way that would surely not be seen as appropriate for this body,” she said.

Lawmakers spent a good portion of the debate arguing over access to birth control with Dems charging it would restrict access by cutting off money for Planned Parenthood and possibly lead to the closure of clinics. Republicans countered the bill would only require Planned Parenthood to charge the actual cost of dispensing the drug.

The bill was one of two on today’s Senate calendar targeting Planned Parenthood’s funding. The other would cut off as much as $3.5 million annually in federal Title X grants the group now receives.

Kapenga said the bills don’t fix what he sees as the problem with the organization, but advances the cause.

“This is a consistent stance, consistent stance with where I have always been, where many others have always been,” Kapenga said. “We are going to protect life. There is a fundamental disagreement on where that begins. I bel that begins at conception, and I believe one of the cornerstones of the Declaration of Independence and what our Constitution is drafted around is the protection of life.”


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