The Supreme Court refused to consider approving an Indiana law, currently blocked by an appeals court, which prevented groups that provide abortions from taking government funding for other services. So now Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest provider of abortions, can continue to use Medicaid dollars to fund other services such as cancer and STI screenings in Indiana. It still cannot, however, use Medicaid dollars to fund abortions due to state and federal law.
This case brings up the problem not with Planned Parenthood getting state funds, but with Medicaid as a whole. Medicaid, not Planned Parenthood, should be defunded because of its intractable ethical and financial problems.
It should come as no surprise that people feel uncomfortable coming anywhere near using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion in a country where support for abortion hovers around half the population, and declines steeply as pregnancies progress. There are now more than a dozen states which have enacted or considered laws cutting off taxpayer money for organizations which provide abortion.
Many people argue for defunding Planned Parenthood, which is a good idea for several reasons. As Thoughts on Liberty’s Gina Luttrell put it:
Part of the reason why Planned Parenthood is subject to its ups and downs is because of state funding. Aside from the legality of abortion generally, Planned Parenthood would not be under as much scrutiny by Congress as it is now if it didn’t receive funding. They would have no hold on them! How hollow would the cries of social conservatives be to “defund Planned Parenthood” if in fact Planned Parenthood was independent and called its own shots? Hollow indeed, my friends.
But I want to focus instead on why the case brings up why it’s an even better idea to defund Medicaid. Using taxpayer dollars to fund people’s medical care makes a certain amount of sense. How could such a prosperous nation allow some of our citizens to go without basic medical care? Well, two central questions remain: what is basic medical care, how does collectively paying for it affect its cost?
When everyone pays for something, two things pretty much always happen. First, people get upset because what they’re paying for violates their conscience.
Regardless of your feelings on abortion, two things are true: 1. Abortion is a medical procedure, 2. A lot of women get at least one. On that basis, abortion is absolutely basic medical care. So any program that’s supposed to provide medical care should include abortion. But that squicks a lot of people out.
The second thing that always happens when people pay for something collectively is that subsidizing that thing boosts demand without boosting supply, making it more expensive. So it is with health care.
Charles Blauhaus at Mercatus explains why Medicaid is doomed. Projections…
point to a coming cost explosion. They embody substantially higher future growth rates than states faced during the last decade. Medicaid already absorbs 24% of state budgets and is described by the bipartisan State Budget Crisis Task Force as “crowding out other needs.”
Medicaid needs to be phased out gradually to correct both of these problems. And then our entire health care system needs an overhaul so consumers can know and respond to prices, bringing costs down and quality up and ending the debate over directly and indirectly paying for procedures which we don’t like.
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