Alaska abortion rule revision concerns pro-choice group

by Amanda Coyne/Alaska Dispatch

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services sent out a notice last week that the department is revising its procedures related to how doctors, who provide abortions to Medicaid patients, must submit forms to be reimbursed by either the state or the federal government. The department will take public comments on the new regulation until July 30.

The change has abortion providers worried that Alaska’s HSS, through the rule change, is trying to limit those who need abortions and change what has long been the terms by which Medicaid pays for them.Clover Simon, spokesperson Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, said the new rule “unilaterally changes what constitutes a medically necessary abortion.” She said the new definition “ignores years of court orders and precedent on the definition of medically necessary.”

HSS is limited to what it can say while going through the public comment process. But in a written statement, Kimberli Poppe-Smart, HSS’s deputy commissioner, said that the change was necessary to “provide clarifications that would improve provider submission of the required form to avoid payment errors.”

She said that the HSS did not have a way to verify that abortions paid for by the state or federal government were meeting criteria for funding laid out by the Alaska Supreme Court.

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