The New Hampshire House recently passed a bill which would prohibit the state from contracting with any organization that performs abortions. While supporters claim that their goal is to stop public funds from paying for abortions, the bill could put the overall health of lower-income women in jeopardy:
The state’s largest hospitals are suing the Department of Health and Human Services over reductions in provider payments, said Lisabritt Solsky, deputy director of the state Medicaid program, calling into question whether Medicaid patients have adequate access to medical services. “Our concern is a bill like this pours gasoline on that fire,” she said.
She said 24 of the state’s 26 acute-care hospitals perform abortions as defined in the bill. Only Catholic Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital do not. If the bill became law, the 24 hospitals would either have to create separate facilities and affiliates to provide those services, or they could not contract with Health and Human Services. [...]
Solsky said the issue is adequate access to medical services for Medicaid patients. If the hospitals cannot contract with the state to provide services, where are Medicaid patients going to receive care, she asked.
As Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas wrote, the bill could cause “dis-enrollment from the Medicaid program potentially resulting in significant disruption to the acute care system.” A group like Planned Parenthood, which claims abortion makes up only three to five percent of the medical services it provides, would not qualify for any government assistance and would not be able to provide the same level of assistance to lower-income women. As Jennifer Frizzell, policy director for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, put it, “For six out of 10 women, we are the primary source of their medical care.” Frizzell claimed that no other group could take their place if their funding was cut.
The bill is currently before a Senate committee, which has not made a recommendation. Its fate is unclear; Gov. John Lynch (D), an abortion-rights advocate, has not commented on the bill as of yet.