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S.C. Medicaid agency paid for 222 abortions in past 5 years

Lisa Read of Lexington and her thirteen-month-old daughter Hadley Read joined more than a hundred protesters gathered outside Planned Parenthood in Columbia.
Lisa Read of Lexington and her thirteen-month-old daughter Hadley Read joined more than a hundred protesters gathered outside Planned Parenthood in Columbia.

South Carolina’s Medicaid agency has paid for 222 abortions during the past five years, according to a state agency.

Planned Parenthood could have performed up to two additional abortions, an S.C. House oversight panel looking into how state agencies interact with Planned Parenthood was told Wednesday.

But state Health and Human Services head Christian Soura told the panel those two payments could be medical coding errors. For example, one bill was for $78, far less than the cost of an abortion.

Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor, only can pay for abortions if a pregnancy was due to rape or incest and endangers the mother’s life, Soura said.

The number of abortions paid for by Medicaid — $437,361 worth during the last five years — could decrease because the state agency is investigating to ensure they comply with those federal requirements. If they do not comply, the agency could be repaid.

The cost also could increase because the agency can receive claims up to a year after a service is performed, meaning some claims still could come in.

Planned Parenthood received $297,904 from Medicaid during the past five years, generally for contraceptive-related services, including office visits, pap smears and birth control, Soura said.

Investigations were launched into Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide after videos surfaced allegedly showing some of its staffers discussing selling fetal tissue.

The S.C. House Legislative Oversight Committee agreed last month to look into state agencies’ interactions with Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood has been serving South Carolinians for more than 50 years, and has a history of compliance with state and federal regulations, said Planned Parenthood South Atlantic vice president Melissa Reed. Reed said the investigations of Planned Parenthood, requested by Gov. Nikki Haley and S.C. legislators, “were motivated by the political witch hunts that have been going on across the nation.”

State Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, responded he resents the investigation being called a witch hunt.

“We have the right, the responsibility and the obligation to ask how the money is being spent,” Taylor said.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

S.C. Medicaid and abortions

Under federal law, Medicaid only can pay for abortions if the pregnancy was the due to rape or incest, or the mother’s life is at risk.

Year

Abortions

Medicaid’s cost

2011

41

$68,658

2012

44

$77,185

2013

44

$49,790

2014

37

$87,719

2015

56

$154,009

Total

222

$437,361

S.C. Department of Health and Human Services

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