Biden signs executive order paving way for Medicaid to pay for out-of-state abortions

Biden signs executive order paving way for Medicaid to pay for out-of-state abortions

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that paves the way for Medicaid to pay for abortion services for people having to travel out of state.

Speaking from the White House virtually, Biden continued to criticize the Supreme Court’s June 25 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Today, I’m signing the second executive order that responds to the healthcare crisis that has unfolded since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, and that women are facing all across America,” he said.

The executive order comes just one day after abortion rights activists secured a major win in Kansas, where voters on Tuesday rejected removing the right to abortion from the state constitution.

Biden said the Supreme Court “practically dared women in this country go to the ballot box and restore the right to choose that the Court just ripped away after 50 years.”

“The voters of Kansas sent a powerful signal that this fails the American people will vote to preserve and protect the right and refuse to let it be ripped away from politicians,” Biden said.

The new directive allows the secretary of health and human services to “invite states to apply for Medicaid waivers, so that states where abortion is legal could provide services to people traveling from a state where abortion may be illegal to seek services in their state,” the official said. Technically, these states would apply through what’s known as a “Medicaid 1115 waiver,” according to a senior administration official.

The official noted that when the White House looked into declaring a public health emergency for abortion and what that would allow the federal government to do, this change to Medicaid — an assistance program for low-income patients’ medical expenses — was one of the options. But the White House realized the president could also do it through an executive order instead, which he plans to do Wednesday, the official said.

President Joe Biden speaks virtually during the first meeting of the interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access at the White House complex in Washington, DC, Aug. 3, 2022.

Susan Walsh/AP

But the timeline for these changes remains unclear.

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega pressed White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday for more details on the implementation of the executive order for women who want to seek abortion care soon.

“Are we talking about days, are we talking about weeks, are we talking about six months?” Vega asked.

Jean-Pierre said the administration didn’t “have the details to share today but [Health and Human Services] will soon have more on what a waiver could look like and the timeline.”

Biden’s order also directs the health and human services secretary to make sure “health care providers comply with federal non-discrimination laws so that women receive medically necessary care without delay,” according to the White House. That could include “providing technical assistance for health care providers who may be confused or unsure of their obligations in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs,” or providing other info and guidance to providers about their obligations and consequences of not complying with non-compliance. -discrimination laws.

The order also directs the health and human services secretary to improve research and data collection on maternal health outcomes, according to the White House.

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