Here's some more details:New abortion regulations adopted by the State of Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services will prevent Medicaid from covering elective abortions.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell certified the regulations Friday, which will take effect Feb. 2.
The department’s document to request Medicaid funds for an abortion lists 23 medical conditions that are covered. Some of those conditions include severe preeclampsia, convulsions, sickle cell anemia, severe kidney infection, epilepsy and congestive heart failure.
A doctor must either certify that the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest or that the pregnancy would put the woman “in danger of death.”
A bill introduced by an anti-abortion senator during last year’s session aimed to enact similar regulations. The bill, introduced by Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, passed the Senate but not the House. The bill did not include provisions for women suffering from mental health issues. The department’s regulations say that a pregnant woman with a psychiatric disorder would have to be “in imminent danger of medical impairment of a major bodily function” to have an abortion covered by Medicaid. - Juneau Empire, 1/7/14
Democrats and pro-choice groups are calling foul on Treadwell's actions:The new certificate to request Medicaid funds features two boxes.
Under the first, a provider would have to certify the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest or the abortion was performed to save the woman's life. The so-called Hyde Amendment, attached to congressional spending bills, allows for federal funds to be used for this option.
Under the second, a provider would have to indicate an abortion was medically necessary to avoid a threat of serious risk to the woman's physical health from continuation of her pregnancy due to "impairment of a major bodily function." Attached is a list of 23 such impairments, including eclampsia, congestive heart failure, coma and a psychiatric disorder that places a woman in "imminent danger of medical impairment of a major bodily function" if an abortion is not performed.
There is also what health commissioner Bill Streur called a "catchall" option, described as "another physical disorder, physical injury, physical illness, including a physical condition arising from the pregnancy."
He said the department has the right to check medical records to verify the need.
The department in 2012 backed off language criticized as restricting the definition of a "medically necessary" abortion for purpose of payment under Medicaid. But Streur, in proposing the new regulations last year, said he decided to take another look at the issue when the department did not see any change in the request for state funds for abortions when officials had hoped to see reductions.
He said Tuesday that the number of certificates requesting state funds continued to be ahead of 2012 levels at last check, which he believed was about October. He said the state hasn't paid for any Hyde Amendment abortions in the last three years though the state has high incidences of rape. He said that could be attributed to a reluctance to report rape or incest, or privacy concerns.
He said his intent with the regulations was to make sure the state was only paying for medically necessary abortions. He said he also wanted physicians to look "very carefully at why they are performing the abortions."
Streur said he took to heart constitutional concerns raised by Democratic lawmakers. He said he asked the Department of Law if the proposal was unconstitutional or infringed on an Alaska Supreme Court decision that held the state must fund medically necessary abortions if it funds medically necessary services for others with financial needs. He said the response he received was "a resounding no." He said the guidance he received was not written. - Anchorage Daily News, 1/7/14
http://www.ppvotesnw.net/...The non-partisan Legislative Affairs Agency found the regulations “create a new and restrictive state standard for determining when abortion services are 'medically necessary' without applying this same standard to coverage for other types of medical care services.”
“By certifying regulations that appear to be unconstitutional, Mead Treadwell put his political ambitions ahead of his duties as Lieutenant Governor and forced regulations on Alaska women that were already rejected by the state legislature,” said Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party.
The Administration proposed “medically necessary” regulations after Senator Coghill’s legislation (SB 49) to accomplish the same goal was “bitterly opposed” and failed to pass the state legislature last year. Parnell’s new regulations force women and doctors to reveal highly personal medical information to government employees. - Alaska Native News, 1/8/14
Alaska Democrats are also pointing out that Treadwell's actions are unconstitutional and completely contradict the conservative/libertarian credo of keeping the government out of people's lives:Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) condemns this decision by Mead Treadwell and DHSS to adopt an unconstitutional policy that interferes with women’s personal medical decision-making. The Alaska Supreme Court has already considered exactly this type of restriction, ruling that women’s pregnancy decisions need to be given equal protection under the law. Additionally, during the open comment period the state received an overwhelming number of messages from Alaskans against the change – outnumbering those in favor by nearly a five to one margin.
“Every Alaskan should be able to make the pregnancy decision that’s best for herself and her family,” said Treasure Mackley, PPVNW’s Political & Organizing Director. “Today, Mead Treadwell and the DHSS have trampled on this right in a misguided restriction that will interfere with women’s personal medical decisions and end up costing taxpayers more.”
If the “medically necessary” rule is challenged in court as unconstitutional, DHSS Commissioner Bill Streur has estimated it would cost the state around $1 million to try to defend. That’s a cost that Alaskans can’t afford and shouldn’t be asked to pay when restrictions like these have already been found unconstitutional.
“If the Lt. Governor is actually interested in reducing abortions or saving money, he should focus on increasing access to birth control and funding for family planning services,” said Mackley. “This restriction only serves as another example of government officials putting themselves between a woman and her doctor. Only a health care professional should determine what’s ‘medically necessary,’ not a collection of bureaucrats in Juneau.” - Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, 1/8/14
Treadwell right now is the frontrunner for the GOP nominee to take on Senator Mark Begich (D. AK) this year. Of course he faces a primary battle between former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan and 2010 Tea Party wild card, Joe Miller. It remains unclear if Treadwell will secure his party's nominee but one thing is for sure, Miller is going to continue to raise Hell in the primary. In fact, he's been doing so for a while now:Several Democratic state lawmakers had asked Streur to withdraw the regulations after they were proposed. A legal memo from a legislative attorney, requested by Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, said the proposal would likely be found unconstitutional, noting that without a compelling state interest, a court would likely find the proposed new rule "unconstitutionally discriminatory."
The Alaska Supreme Court has held the state must fund medically necessary abortions if it funds medically necessary services for others with financial needs.
On Tuesday, some Democrats criticized the regulations as an unnecessary government intrusion in what should be a decision between a woman, her family and her doctor.
"We in Alaska have a strong belief in, and a constitutional right to, privacy, and we don't want government's hands involved in personal decisions about our bodies," House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said in a statement.
French said it's "inconceivable" that someone, like Planned Parenthood, would not sue over the issue.
"You're still burdening this one medical condition, pregnancy, with a whole host of bureaucratic procedures that you don't burden other medical conditions with," he said. - SF Gate, 1/7/14
And expect this issue to come up in the primary soon:Joe Miller is the only Alaska Republican Senate candidate to take a position on the compromise, echoing the Senate Conservatives Fund, while Mead Treadwell and Dan Sullivan continue to sidestep critical issues in front of the U.S. Senate. Monday on KFQD, conservative commentator Bernadette Wilson criticized Treadwell and Sullivan for their silence.
“Will Treadwell and Sullivan side with the Tea Party or with the bipartisan group trying to end Washington gridlock?” said Mike Wenstrup, Chair of the Alaska Democratic Party. “The list of issues Sullivan and Treadwell refuse to take a stand on is longer than a six-year old’s list to Santa.”
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) crafted the compromise, which already has passed the House with overwhelming support, including from Congressman Don Young. In the Senate, Republicans John McCain, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Ron Johnson, and Orrin Hatch have said they will vote for cloture on the bill, which also has widespread support among Democrats. The budget compromise would reduce federal budget deficits, which already have been cut in half since 2008. - Alaska Native News, 12/18/13
Begich was born and raised in Alaska and Treadwell was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut but moved to Alaska in 1978 to do an internship with U.S. Secretary of Interior Wally Hickel's run for Governor of Alaska. Whether or not residency issues will be a key factor in primary, Begich's campaign is already going after Treadwell for his role in the GOP's War On Women:Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan says no one he’s met while campaigning has asked about how long he’s lived in Alaska.
The residency issue has been raised by the state Democratic party and campaign of at least one of Sullivan’s GOP rivals.
Sullivan and his family moved to Alaska in 1997, where he served as a law clerk and in private practice before leaving in 2002 after receiving a White House fellowship. In 2004, he was recalled to active military duty and later served in President George W. Bush’s administration before returning to Alaska. He was appointed state attorney general in 2009. - KTOO, 12/13/13
You can click here to contribute to Begich's campaign:My husband Mark Begich has three opponents running against him right now. And two of them just recently let their true anti-women colors show.
Both Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell want to put extreme restrictions on women’s access to health care.This is just more proof of the radical, anti-women agenda that Mark’s opponents -- and the Outside interests that back them -- are working toward. By the end of this month, Mark needs to raise $35,000 to fight back. And he needs our help to get there.
Contribute $5 or more to help Mark reach this goal before our deadline at the end of the month.
Mark was raised by and around strong Alaska women. It’s part of the reason he’s such a strong defender of a woman’s right to make her own choices about health care.
Alaska women, and the families that rely on them, do not need anyone telling them what choices to make. We can do just fine talking to our doctors.
Mark always does what’s best for Alaskans. That’s why the special interests are working so hard to defeat him. We have to work twice as hard to keep him working for us.
Let’s make sure we hit this $35,000 before the end of this month. Contribute $5 or more right now to help.
With your support, we will keep Alaska’s seat in Alaska’s corner.
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