In a recent article regarding the new State of Alaska regulation tightening the definition of what a "medically necessary" abortion is in order for public funds to pay for it, Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau makes the predictable statement that “Government should not be involved in these decisions, period.”
Here's a question for Rep. Kerttula. What do the following medical procedures all have in common ?
- Dental implants
- Chiropractic massage or heat treatments
- Hearing aid maintenance
- Erectile Dysfunction Drugs
- More than one portable x-ray service daily
- Drugs to treat the terminal condition of hospice recipients
- Cosmetic surgery
- Breast implants
Well, it turns out each of these procedures have been determined to not be medically necessary and are therefore not reimbursable under Medicaid.
Time and again we hear from advocates of public funding for all abortions that it is a decision that can only be made between a woman and her doctor. The reality though is that every day, Medicaid patients are told that there are certain procedures that do not qualify for public funding because they are elective. In other words, they are not medically necessary.
Who makes these determinations as to why certain procedures are not reimbursable? Who, Representative Kertulla, is getting between the physician and the patient ?
Answer – Medicaid bureaucrats. The bottom line is that Government is always involved when Government is footing the bill. Think ObamaCare.
When asked in public testimony to define what an elective abortion is during a Senate Judiciary hearing on SB49, the bill Alaska Family Action is advocating for that puts the same regulation the State just implemented into law, Laura Einstein, chief counsel for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, said that she had “heard of the concept" but just didn't really know what it was.
Under the Alaska Constitution, the State only has to pay for medically necessary abortions and of course that also means it isn't require to pay for elective abortions. As long as standard, neutral medical terms and concepts are used, the State has every right to determine what constitutes a medically necessary abortion.
In the 2001 State vs. Planned Parenthood case, the Alaska Supreme Court emphasized in its Opinion that that the Planned Parenthood case did “not concern State payment for elective abortions.” The Court repeatedly limited the application of its decision to “medically necessary abortions” and in fact specifically and deliberately referred to the “medically necessary” nature of the abortions that it was addressing in the case on thirty-four (34) separate instances in its Opinion.
The State is not obligated to leave the definition of “medical necessity” for purposes of Medicaid funding in the sole and unquestioned discretion of the physician. If that were the case, then the State would not be permitted to define the types of medical care that is covered by Medicaid and the types of medical care that is not.
Alaska abortion providers have proven themselves to be unreliable with respect to distinguishing between abortions that are medically necessary and those that are not. For example Dr. Whitefield, one of Alaska’s leading abortion providers and now with Planned Parenthood, has testified under oath that he has consistently defined medical necessity to include women who believe pregnancy will interfere with their employment or education plans, as well as women who view their pregnancy as being an “affront” to them (which essentially means that the woman does not want to be pregnant).
With these new regulations now in place, and hopefully with SB49 getting to Governor Parnell's desk for his signature early this spring, abortion providers in Alaska will have to start being honest when they seek reimbursement for an elective procedure that ends the life of an unborn child.
This is a victory that should be celebrated not just by those who value the sanctity of every life. It should be seen as good public policy by any Alaskan who respects the rule of law.