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Wis. Assembly passes bill targeting Planned Parenthood Medicaid reimbursements

The Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday voted 61-35 to approve a bill (AB 311) that would reduce abortion providers' Medicaid reimbursements for birth control drugs, the AP/La Crosse Tribune reports.

The bill already has passed in the state Senate and now heads to Gov. Scott Walker (R).

Bill details

The bill is part of a legislative package aimed at Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. The group of bills was introduced by conservatives following an antiabortion-rights group's release of a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood (Richmond, AP/La Crosse Tribune, 2/12).

The bill that passed on Thursday stipulates that family planning clinics that get discounted contraceptive drugs via Medicaid could only bill Medicaid for the drug acquisition and dispensing costs. The change would cut about $4.5 million in annual funding from Planned Parenthood.

A second bill (S 237, AB 310) in the package would end $3.5 million in federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Under the measure, the state would have to apply for the federal funds, which would be distributed to the state's Well Woman program. Abortion providers would not receive any of the funds (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/15/15). That bill has passed in the state Legislature but has not been signed by Walker (AP/La Crosse Tribune, 2/12).

The third bill (S 260, AB 305) in the package would prohibit the sale or donation of fetal tissue procured since Jan. 1, as well as any research on the tissue. Researchers who violate the bill could receive up to six years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/15/15). According to the AP/Tribune, that bill has stalled in both chambers.

Comments

Opponents of AB 311 said the measure is a political effort to target Planned Parenthood. In addition, they noted that the measure would curb contraceptive access because Planned Parenthood would no longer be able to pay to supply it.

State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D) called the bill "partisan, political and completely unnecessary," adding, "All this bill will do is put women's health at risk."

Separately, Nicole Safar, government relations director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, said that opponents of Planned Parenthood have tried to harm the organization's reputation by spreading false information about the organization's billing practices. Safar said the organization bills Medicaid correctly (AP/La Crosse Tribune, 2/12).