June 09,2022

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (Wyden) (202) 224-4515 

Wyden and Pallone Urge Medicaid to Protect Women and Families' Right to Choose their Doctor

As Threats Build to Reproductive Health Care, Leading Health Committee Democrats Call for Action to Enforce Medicaid’s “Free Choice of Provider” Protection

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) today urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to take steps to enforce Medicaid’s guarantee that Americans may see the health care providers of their choice.

“Today, several states across the country are excluding Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers from their Medicaid programs in violation of federal law, which for decades has guaranteed beneficiaries the right to receive family planning care from the qualified providers of their choice,” the members wrote. “We urge you to take steps to enforce Medicaid’s long-standing protections consistent with congressional intent and to ensure that beneficiaries are able to access the health services they need from the providers they choose.” 

Medicaid provides coverage to over 80 million Americans today and serves as the country’s primary payer of family planning services. For decades, it has also provided beneficiaries with the right to obtain care from any provider qualified to perform the service, known as Medicaid’s “free choice of provider” provision. Congress codified this guarantee in response to state efforts to restrict where beneficiaries could receive care, reflecting Congress’s clear intent for Medicaid to support greater access to health services and providers.

Several states have excluded Planned Parenthood health centers and other qualified family planning providers from their Medicaid programs, in direct violation of federal law. Three of these states’ terminations have taken effect in the last two years. Similar providers in Louisiana and South Carolina are only able to participate in those state Medicaid programs due to courts stepping in and blocking similar state efforts. These exclusions have occurred in the midst of increasing attacks to sexual and reproductive health care access, including Texas’s ongoing S.B. 8 abortion ban. These unlawful state exclusions severely harm the women and families that Medicaid serves by cutting off access to major – and sometimes the only – providers of publicly funded sexual and reproductive health care in their communities.

The full letter can be found here