Remember when the Department of Health and Human Services threatened to cut off all Medicaid funding for family planning in Texas if Governor Rick Perry didn't let Planned Parenthood clinics participate in the Medicaid Women's Health Program, which serves 130,000 women in the state? Unsurprisingly, Perry was hellbent on excluding Planned Parenthood — which operates nearly half of the clinics that benefit from the program — and, as a result, the federal government will withhold its $35 million contribution. Since 90 percent of the program's entire funding comes from the HHS, the decision essentially shutters the entire enterprise.
"We very much regret the state's decision to implement this rule, which will prevent women enrolled in the program from receiving services from the trusted health care providers they have chosen and relied upon for their care," Cindy Mann, Director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations, wrote to Texas health officials today. "In light of Texas' actions, CMS is not in a position to extend or renew the current [Medicaid contract]." Perry signed the law earlier this month because some of the Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortions. But wait, you say — no state or federal money can be used to pay for those abortions! That's true; all of the funds go toward breast exams, contraceptives, and other public healthcare services that the women of Texas desperately need. But common sense has never been Perry's strong point when it comes to reproductive rights, so bully for them.
It seems more than unfair that over a hundred thousand women will lose out on crucial healthcare because of political posturing, but the White House says Obama couldn't help but defund the program. "Medicaid law is very clear; a state may not restrict patients' choice of providers of services like mammograms and other cancer screenings, if those providers are qualified to deliver care covered by Medicaid." a HHS spokesperson told reporters today. Perry has vowed to continue the program without Planned Parenthood or federal money, but that seems pretty unrealistic — where will they find $35 million and enough clinics? Crisis pregnancy centers and prayers won't help here.
Texas Loses Entire Women's Health Program Over Planned Parenthood Law [Huffington Post]