TIME Health Care

Physicians Avoid Conversations About Religion in the ICU

TIME.com stock photos Health First Aid Kit Gloves
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Even though it's important to patients and their families

Religion and spirituality are not common topics of discussion in intensive care units (ICUs), and doctors often go out of their way to avoid them—even though religion is often very important to patients and their medical surrogates during end-of-life care, a new study shows.

In the study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers listened to audio recordings of 249 meetings between surrogates of critically ill patients and health care professionals in 13 different ICUs across the country. The goal was to investigate the religious or spiritual content in these talks. The researchers found that although religion was considered important to 77.6% of the surrogates (a surrogate is a family member or another person responsible for making medical decisions for a patient), conversations about religious and spiritual topics occurred in less than 20% of the goals-of-care conversations. Health care professionals rarely “explored the patient’s or family’s religious or spiritual ideas.”

When conversations about spirituality did occur in some of these end-of-life care conversations, the researchers found that 65% of the time the topic was initiated by the surrogate. Health care professionals raised the issue of spirituality only 5.6% of the time.

The types of religious conversations surrogates would bring up fell into categories such as: referencing their religious or spiritual beliefs, having the notion that the physician is God’s tool to aid in the healing of their loved one, and the idea that the end of life would be a new beginning. For example, surrogates said things like, “All I can do is pray for her to continue to get better and maybe one o’ these days, she can walk outta here.” Or, “I’m very, very optimistic because I know our faith is strong.”

The most common response among health care providers when a surrogate brought up religion or spirituality was to change the subject. In only eight conferences did a health care professional try to understand the beliefs of the surrogate by doing things like asking about the patient’s religious beliefs. “Our findings suggest that religious considerations—viewed as important to a large proportion of Americans—are often absent from end-of-life conversations,” the authors wrote. “This may signal a need for changes in health care delivery in ICUs.”

The study authors concluded that one potential solution would be to “redesign” health care processes so that spiritual care providers were a larger part of end-of-life care discussions for patients who value spirituality and religion.

In a corresponding editorial, health care professionals who were not involved in the study wrote: “Although we health care professionals struggle to connect spirituality and medicine as evidenced by the many and mounting articles that refute or explicate their connection, our patients and families typically do not struggle. For most, thoughts of what is most sacred, of what transcends the finitude of human life, come flooding in the moment the physician shares the news of the serious illness or the telephone call comes urging the listener to the bedside of a critically ill loved one.”

The new study suggests that religion and spirituality may be a conversation that people want to have at the end of life, and they are not getting it from their health care providers. Finding a solution for this discrepancy could be in patients’ and health care professionals’ best interest, the editorial said.
MONEY Medicare

How to Shop for Medicare Drug Coverage

Q: I have a retiree medical plan sponsored by my former employer. It is a PPO with a $400 deductible per person and 20% co-insurance. The plan’s costs are reasonable, and it covers a wide range of drugs. There’s a $1,000 annual out-of-pocket maximum and one month of free maintenance drugs when you buy a 90-day supply from the preferred pharmacy. I will be Medicare eligible in 2016, and I do not think that my former employer will continue to offer a retiree health plan. Is there any insurer that will offer similar drug coverage to what I have now with no penalty for pre-existing conditions? How can I find such a plan, regardless of annual cost? Is there any way to avoid the $5,000 per year out-of-pocket cost that I hear is standard with Medicare Part D plans? Thank you. — Gary, N.Y.

A: Gary’s question is a great opportunity to talk about the challenges that more and more retirees face as they shift from employer-sponsored group health plans to Medicare.

As retiree health benefits have become increasingly expensive, many companies are dropping this coverage. In the best case scenario, the employer gives these retirees a lump sum, which is deposited into a health reimbursement account (HRA). The retiree can use the HRA funds to help buy an individual Medicare policy. But all too often, the employer may simply end the retiree health plan and provide no further support.

Still, there is some good news. Gary won’t face pre-existing condition limitations as long as he signs up for Medicare on a timely basis. If he meets the enrollment deadlines, any pre-existing conditions he has will not affect him when purchasing Part D, or when signing up for Original Medicare (Parts A and B) or Medicare Advantage (Part C).

If Gary chooses Original Medicare, he may want to buy a Medicare supplement policy, which also is called Medigap. Original Medicare pays only 80% of insured expenses, after beneficiaries pay annual deductibles and co-pays; policyholders must pay the other 20%. Medigap policies will pay that 20% plus other services that Medicare does not cover. If you purchase Medigap coverage at the time you become eligible for Medicare, you have guaranteed issue rights—you cannot be penalized for pre-existing conditions.

So Gary has two basic options. He can enroll in Original Medicare, with or without a Medigap plan, and then get a stand-alone Part D drug plan. Or he can purchase a Medicare Advantage plan, which will pay for everything that Original Medicare does, including (in most cases) Part D drug coverage and often additional benefits as well.

There are some drawbacks to Medicare Advantage. Unlike fee-for-service Original Medicare, most Medicare Advantage plans are health maintenance organizations (HMOs), which require people to get their care in the plans’ provider network of doctors, hospitals and other providers. So be sure you’re comfortable with the health-care network before you sign on.

Now for bad news. Neither Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage is likely to offer Gary Part D coverage that is as good a deal as his employer-sponsored drug plan. Still, the costs may not be as steep as Gary fears. There are ceilings on Part D drug expenses, but they differ by plan. And despite what he heard, out-of-pocket costs for many policies are less than $5,000.

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It may also help Gary that shopping around for affordable drug coverage is getting easier. Medicare now offers an online tool called Plan Finder—just plug in your ZIP code, and you’ll see a list of all Part D plans from private insurers that are offered where you live. The list will include the premiums and other rates, as well as out-of-pocket maximums.

The Plan Finder tool also will let you enter your list of prescription medications and compare the costs of these drugs under different plans. If a plan does not include a specific drug in its roster of available drugs (called a “formulary”), you will see this as well. You can connect directly to plans that interest you and ask any additional questions you might have.

Read next: Why Medicare Premiums May Jump 50%

Philip Moeller is an expert on retirement, aging, and health. He is co-author of The New York Times bestseller, “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security,” and is working on a companion book about Medicare. Reach him at moeller.philip@gmail.com or @PhilMoeller on Twitter.

TIME republicans

Conservatives Want Bust of Planned Parenthood Founder Removed From National Portrait Gallery

The Planned Parenthood logo
Dominick Reuter—Reuters The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside a clinic in Boston, June 27, 2014.

The controversy centers around her support for eugenics

A bust at a Smithsonian museum is the latest target in a heated back and forth between conservatives and Planned Parenthood.

Conservative groups are calling on the National Portrait Gallery to remove of a bust of Margaret Sanger from the Washington, D.C. museum, the Associated Press reports. Sanger, who died in 1966, founded two groups that eventually became Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood has been harshly criticized by conservatives following the release of a series of undercover videos that show employees of the healthcare organization negotiating the sale of fetal tissue. However, a group of ministers lead by former Republican politician E.W. Jackson and the conservative non-profit ForAmerica say their opposition to the bust is based on Sanger’s support of eugenics, a social movement that sought to remove undesirable traits from the gene pool through sterilization and selective breeding.

Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica, told the AP that Sanger believed eugenics could be used to “sterilize out of existence the poor, the blacks.”

Republican politicians have echoed these claims. Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas have written a letter to lawmakers that calls the sculpture’s display by the museum “an affront both to basic human decency and the very meaning of justice.”

In a statement to TIME, Planned Parenthood acknowledged Sanger’s flaws, but dismissed the attacks as motivated by anti-abortion sentiment.

“This is a group with a longstanding political agenda to ban abortion,” said spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood. “There is no doubt that Margaret Sanger made some controversial, harmful statements that Planned Parenthood does not uphold. What we do know is that her fight for birth control access for all women — and her partnership with leaders like W.E.B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune and Rev. Adam Clayton Powell — has helped millions of women and people to this day.”

Officials at the National Portrait Gallery say they won’t remove the bust, which has been on display since 2010. A spokesperson for the gallery told the AP that the museum’s displays include some people with “less than admirable characteristics.”

Sanger’s bust is included in the museum’s “Struggle for Justice” exhibit, which highlights Americans who fought for the civil rights of disenfranchised or marginalized groups.

This is not the first time Planned Parenthood has had to defend Sanger. A 2004 fact sheet published by the group comes to the activist’s defense, while also separating the organization from some of her more antiquated beliefs. The fact sheet says that criticizing the family planning movement based on Sanger’s support for eugenics is like rejecting the Declaration of Independence because “it’s author, Thomas Jefferson, bought and sold slaves.”

TIME Health Care

Planned Parenthood Protesters Rally Across the Country

Protesters held signs reading 'Planned Parenthood Sells Baby Parts'

Protesters gathered at 320 Planned Parenthood clinics around the country on Saturday calling for the end to federal funding for the health care provider.

The Washington Post reports the protesters held signs reading ‘Planned Parenthood Sells Baby Parts’ and participated in prayers and chants.

Controversy over the organization, which provides health services including abortion, erupted recently when undercover videos by anti-abortion activists purported to show Planned Parenthood personnel engaging in illegal activity and selling fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood has denied the allegations, arguing the videos were heavily edited and taken out of context.

MORE: Why We Still Need Fetal-Tissue Research

In a statement, Planned Parenthood vice president Eric Ferrero said, “These rallies are meant to intimidate and harass our patients, who rely on our nonprofit health centers for basic, preventive health care.”

[Washington Post]

TIME Health Care

Illinois Bans Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors

Illinois State Fair Bruce Rauner
Seth Perlman—AP Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner greets fairgoers during the Twilight Parade at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 13, 2015, in Springfield, Ill.

The law blocks mental health providers from engaging in "sexual orientation change efforts" with a person under the age of 18

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday approved legislation that will prohibit doctors and therapists from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation.

The legislation, known as the “Youth Mental Health Protection Act,” makes it illegal for any “mental health provider” to engage in “sexual orientation change efforts” with a person under the age of 18. Providers will also be prohibited from referring a patient to anyone else for purpose of attempting to change their sexual orientation.

Additionally, the law prohibits individuals from advertising conversion therapy services in a manner that represents homosexuality as a “mental disease, disorder or illness.”

The bill passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly in May of this year, but the governor did not sign it until Thursday.

Illinois State Senator Daniel Bliss said in a statement published Friday that conversion therapies for homosexuality could be extremely harmful to young adults.

“They’re out of date and can be deeply destructive to youth,” said Bliss. “Outlawing these practices is a small step in our pursuit for LGBT rights, but it’s an extremely important step in protecting young people in Illinois.”

The new law makes Illinois the fourth state in the United States to outlaw conversion therapy for minors. In April, the Obama administration called for a nationwide ban on conversion therapy for gay and transgender youth.


MONEY credit cards

Should You Pay Your Medical Bill With a Credit Card?

Why it's smart to charge a payment at the beginning of your billing cycle.

Since the Affordable Care Act, the large majority of us have health insurance, which means we all have to figure out how we’ll cover co-pays, deductibles and bills for expenses not covered. While paying a co-pay with cash isn’t unheard of, you may find it more convenient to pay with a credit or debit card.

Increasingly, you’ll be asked for a co-pay when you make a scheduled health care visit (there are exceptions; certain checkups and procedures require no co-pay). In that case, a credit card may be your best bet. That should give you some time to come up with the co-pay if it’s not in your regular budget. And if you have a rewards card and will be able to pay the card off in full, some of the pain of an unexpected bill can be mitigated by a small reward. (Or, if you anticipate a large expense — think pregnancy or knee replacement — a balance-transfer card might be useful if it has a low- or zero-interest promotional rate.)

Especially in the case of non-routine care, you may also be faced with co-insurance, the amount you have to pay after insurance pays. That can be stickier, because sometimes insurance doesn’t pay as quickly or as much as you might hope, and you may be getting a bill that you have reason to believe you won’t ultimately owe. What then? Do you pay it?

It actually happened to me recently when, after nearly six months, I worried that a still-unpaid bill might be sent to collections, thus doing serious damage to my credit score. I truly believed insurance would eventually cover the expense (I had appealed a denial) … but also that the account was close to being turned over to collections. And so I put it on a credit card at the beginning of a billing cycle, to maximize the time between when I charged it and when I would have to pay it, hoping that insurance would come through and pay its share of the bill.

Eventually insurance did come through. The medical provider told me I’d be issued a refund in 4-6 weeks. Instead, I paid the provider the appropriate amount for my co-pay with a check, and successfully disputed what I charged to my credit card with the credit issuer (and thus had the charge removed).

If you’re hoping to use a credit card to buy time on a bill you don’t think you should have to pay, here’s what to know:

  • Paying carries its own risks. Once the bill is paid, health care providers may be less motivated to help you get insurance to pay. In addition, if you’ve already paid the “retail” rate, you lose the ability to negotiate a lower price. If you’ve ever looked at a bill and seen how much the “negotiated rate” your insurance company pays compared to the full retail rate, you’ll understand why it’s such a big deal to potentially lose that ability.
  • But not paying the bill is also risky. Your credit report can reflect late payments (most health care providers do not report to credit reporting agencies, but a few do). If your account is sent to collections, your credit score is likely to suffer. You could lose a good credit score that you’ve worked hard to build, and you could either not be approved for credit or you could end up having to pay more in interest if you do qualify.

For me, paying and timing it so that I had nearly two billing cycles to continue to fight with my insurer bought me time to resolve it. Disputing it (even if insurance had not eventually paid) would have resulted in a bit more time while the credit card issuer investigated. And all of that time was interest-free. (I should add that the reason I filed a chargeback is because I know that under federal law the provider couldn’t drag its feet and take “4-6 weeks” to issue a refund to my card after they agreed I was due one. It wasn’t just a stall tactic.) Most important to me, it prevented a huge hit to my credit for a bill I actually did not owe.

More From Credit.com:

MONEY Health Care

Millions of Obamacare Enrollees Are Missing Out on This Big Savings

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Cost-sharing reductions that lower deductibles are only available to health exchange members with silver plans.

More than 2 million people with coverage on the health insurance exchanges may be missing out on subsidies that could lower their deductibles, copayments and maximum out-of-pocket spending limits, according to a new analysis by Avalere Health.

Those who may be missing out are people with incomes between 100 and 250% of the federal poverty level ($11,770 to $29,425). Under the health law, people at those income levels are eligible for cost-sharing reductions that can substantially reduce their out-of-pocket costs. But there’s a catch: the reductions are only available to people who buy a silver-level plan.

(Cost-sharing reductions are a different type of subsidy than the premium tax credits that are available to people with incomes up to 400% of the poverty level regardless of the type of plan they buy.)

In its analysis of exchange income data for those enrolled in the health insurance marketplaces in 2015, Avalere found that 8.1 million individuals with this coverage had income levels that should have qualified them for cost-sharing reductions. But only 5.9 million received the reductions, which are automatically applied if people enroll in silver-level plans.

Some of those who were eligible probably bought cheaper bronze-level plans, says Elizabeth Carpenter, a vice president at Avalere.

“Surveys show that people shop for plans based on premiums,” Carpenter says. “But if somebody forgoes cost-sharing reductions in order to pay a lower monthly premium and then has an unexpected accident or illness, their out-of-pocket exposure is likely to be higher.”

Silver plans pay 70% of medical costs, on average, while bronze plans pay 60%.

Consumers with a silver plan are thus responsible for paying 30% of their medical costs in deductibles and copayments or coinsurance, up to a maximum of $6,600 for an individual and $13,200 for a family in 2015. Cost-sharing reduction subsidies reduce those out-of-pocket costs. People with incomes that are 150% of the federal poverty level or less are on the hook for no more than 6% of their costs (instead of 30%); those with incomes up to 200% of poverty pay no more than 13%; and those with incomes up to 250% pay 27% at most. Consumers who are eligible for cost-sharing reductions also have lower maximum out-of-pocket spending limits.

In 2015, a standard silver plan has a $2,556 average annual deductible for medical and drug costs for single coverage on the federal exchange, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) Cost-sharing reductions would cut the average deductible to $2,077 for someone whose income was between 200 and 250% of poverty, and to $737 for someone whose income was between 150 to 200% of poverty. Someone whose income was 150% of poverty or lower would have a deductible of just $229 for a silver plan.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit national health policy news service.

MONEY Health Care

What You’ll Have to Pay for ‘Female Viagra’

A tablet of flibanserin female viagra
Allen G. Breed—AP A tablet of flibanserin

The answer is, it depends

On Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration approved Addyi, the first sexual dysfunction drug for women. Questions remain about the drug’s side effects and risks. But if it works well, will it be affordable for most women?

Sprout CEO Cindy Whitehead said that while the cost of Addyi has not been finalized, it should be priced similarly to a month of Viagra pills. GoodRx, a drug cost comparison site, found that the average fair cash price for Viagra is around $400 a month. However, Whitehead expected that patients with insurance coverage would only need to pay about $30 to $75 a month in copays.

That’s the amount most Americans currently pay for non-generic prescription drugs. Virtually all job-based health plans have prescription drug benefits with a “formulary,” or a list of which drugs are covered and which are not. Most drug formularies have more than one tier, which means that some drugs require a higher co-pay or co-insurance rate than others, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For formularies with just two tiers, the average co-pay for first-tier drugs like generics is just $11, while more specialized second-tier drugs go up to $30. On plans with four or more pricing levels, the most expensive average co-pay is $80.

That said, it’s not yet known whether all insurers will cover Addyi. For men seeking erectile-dysfunction medication, some insurers require evidence of a documented medical condition or refuse to cover certain drugs, according to the Cleveland Clinic. For instance, starting next year, CVS/Caremark will remove Viagra and Levitra from its formulary (though Cialis will still be available). Plus, those over 65 are often out of luck: By law, Medicare Part D is prohibited from paying for erectile dysfunction drugs.

MONEY Medicare

Medicare Wants Doctors to Get Paid to Discuss End-Of-Life Issues

The government is accepting public comments on the proposal and will make a decision in November.

Remember the so-called death panels?

When Congress debated the Affordable Care Act in 2009, the legislation originally included a provision that would have allowed Medicare to reimburse doctors when they meet with patients to talk about end-of-life care.

But then Sarah Palin argued that such payments would lead to care being withheld from the elderly and disabled. Her comment ignited a firestorm among conservatives and helped fuel the opposition to the legislation.

Her assertions greatly distressed Dr. Pamelyn Close, a palliative care specialist in Los Angeles.

“It did terrible damage to the concept of having this conversation,” she said.

Amid the ensuing political uproar, Congress deleted the provision. And the lack of payments and concerns about the controversy further discouraged doctors from initiating these talks, according to Close.

“We just are not having these conversations often enough and soon enough,” Close said. “Loved ones who are trying to do always the right thing, end up being weighed with tremendous guilt and tremendous uncertainty without having had that conversation.”

When done right, according to Close, these counseling sessions often delve into end-of-life treatment options and legal documents, such as advance directives and living wills. The issues to be covered are complex and typically require a series of discussions.

Right now, Medicare only pays doctors for this sort of advanced care planning if it happens during the first visit for new Medicare enrollees. But the government recently has again proposed that Medicare reimburse doctors for including these conversations in their practice, whenever they occur.

Already, some private insurance companies are starting to do just that.

Read next: How Medicare’s New Rules May Improve Eldercare Benefits

Meanwhile, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization, has formally opposed Medicare’s proposal.

“By paying doctors for these conversations, what we’re doing is opening the door to directive counseling and coercion,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, an attorney with the group. Foster says her organization supports end-of-life counseling and planning, but not in a doctor’s office.

“A doctor is not really the person you’d want to be having it with – particularly not a general practitioner who would not be able to advise on the nuances of end-of-life care in the first place,” she says.

But patients seem to want these talks. A 2012 study by the California HealthCare Foundation found that 80 percent of Californians would like to have an end-of-life conversation with their physician, but fewer than one in 10 has done so.

Many doctors who initiate the discussions often do so on their own dime. More often, they don’t have them at all, said Dr. Daniel Stone, an internist with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“When a doctor has patients scheduled every 15 minutes, it’s difficult to have a face-to-face conversation about values and goals related to the end of life, which is one of the most sensitive topics that you can possibly discuss with a patient,” Stone said.

Dr. Susan Tolle, an internist with the Center for Ethics in Health Care at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, says the informality with which such conversations are held now means that family members may not be included. Having the discussion as part of a formal doctor’s appointment can change that, she said.

“What it does is, it gives this really important conversation dignity and standing,” she said.

In Oregon, doctors have been squeezing end-of-life discussions into regular medical appointments for decades, under less-than-ideal circumstances. Over the last five years a quarter of a million Oregonians filed their wishes with a state registry. They use what’s known as a POLST form, which stands for Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment. A version of it has been adopted by some other states, including New York and West Virginia.

Jo Ann Farwell, a retired Portland social worker who was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, completed the form after talking to her doctor.

“I had surgery and had a prognosis of four to six months to live,” she said, after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

She did it, she said, to make sure her last hours are as comfortable as possible.

“I wouldn’t want to be on tube-feeding,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to be resuscitated, or have mechanical ventilation, because that would probably prolong my dying, rather than giving me quality of life.”

In the 1990s, health care workers all over Oregon recognized that the wishes of patients weren’t being consistently followed. So the health care establishment worked with the state and with ethicists to prioritize end-of-life talks; the result was the POLST form.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Portland, has introduced the Medicare reimbursement legislation every session since 2009. Until now, he says, the federal government hasn’t placed any value on helping people prepare for death, and he finds that ironic.

“The Medicare program will pay for literally thousands of medical procedures, many of them very expensive and complex, even if the person is at the latest stage of life and it may not do any good,” Blumenauer says.

From a purely financial point of view, the change could save money. But Blumenauer says that’s not what’s driving him.

“I don’t care what people decide,” he says. “If they want to die in an ICU with tubes up their nose, that’s their choice. What we want is that people know what their choices are.”

Farwell, the brain tumor patient, well remembers when her sister was dying from cancer.

“She never talked about death or dying,” Farwell said, “never talked about what she wanted at the end. It was very, very difficult for me to try to plan and give her care.”

Farwell wants her sons to be in a better position when it comes to carrying out her wishes.

The federal government is now accepting public comment on the Medicare reimbursement proposal. It’s expected to make a decision in November.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit national health policy news service.

TIME Health Care

Arkansas to End Medicaid Payments to Planned Parenthood

Asa Hutchinson
Danny Johnston—AP Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. onAug. 4, 2015.

"This organization does not represent the values of the people of our state," the governor said

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.)—Arkansas is ending its Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday, despite warnings federal officials have given other states that such a move could violate the law.

Hutchinson ordered the Arkansas Department of Human Services to terminate its Medicaid provider contract with the organization in 30 days. The move came in response to secretly recorded videos released by an anti-abortion group showing Planned Parenthood officials describing how they provide fetal tissue from abortions for medical research.

“It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them,” Hutchinson said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood received more than $51,000 in Medicaid payments in Arkansas over the past fiscal year for family planning and gynecological services. None of the money went toward abortions, Arkansas Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy Webb said.

Independent state Rep. Nate Bell, who chairs the Arkansas House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Hutchinson Thursday asking the governor to terminate the contract. Hutchinson said he’s received a similar request from other state lawmakers, including Republican Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, who chairs the Senate committee, and Republican Rep. David Meeks of Conway.

Hutchinson announced the move just a couple of hours after telling reporters he was reviewing the lawmakers’ requests. He told reporters he was “very troubled” by the videos.

Alabama and Louisiana earlier this month announced they were ending Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, a move that prompted a warning from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that it could violate federal law.

“Longstanding Medicaid laws prohibit states from restricting individuals who have coverage through Medicaid from receiving care from a qualified provider,” Lori Lodes, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in an email before Hutchinson’s announcement. “By restricting which provider a woman could choose to receive care from, women could lose access to critical preventive care, such as cancer screenings.”

Louisiana officials have argued the move doesn’t violate federal law because other Medicaid providers offer the same services as Planned Parenthood.

Hutchinson’s office said the governor was confident in the legal basis for the decision, saying the contract allows the state to terminate it with 30 days’ notice.

“Even though we anticipate a federal review and scrutiny, standing up for Arkansas values is most important to the governor,” spokesman J.R. Davis said.

Hutchinson earlier this year signed into law a measure prohibiting public funding to abortion providers and entities that refer women to abortion providers, a move aimed at blocking any money to Planned Parenthood. The new law, however, did not apply to Medicaid funding. The organization had previously received money for sex education funding.

Republicans around the country have targeted Planned Parenthood after several videos were released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress.

The center said the videos showed Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood said the organization receives legal payment only for the cost of the procedure and requires a mother’s consent before the tissue is given to researchers.

Planned Parenthood said it believed the move by Hutchinson and the other states is “clearly a violation of the Medicaid statute that requires that a woman have her choice among qualified providers.”

“This political grandstanding could have real and devastating consequences for women who rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, cancer screenings, STD tests and other lifesaving care,” Angie Remington, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said in a statement.

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