Texas Medicaid money threatened over Planned Parenthood defunding

By Michelle Bauman

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The Obama administration has threatened to deny funding for a Medicaid program in Texas if the state prevents money from going to clinics that perform abortions.

Texas governor Rick Perry criticized the Obama administration for “playing politics” and “sacrificing the health of millions of Texas women” for the sake of advancing pro-abortion policies.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission was informed by the administration on Dec. 12 that its request to extend the Medicaid Women’s Health Program would be rejected if a state law banning money from going to abortion providers is allowed to stand.

During 2011, the Texas program cared for 180,000 women and was 90 percent federally funded.

Earlier this year, Texas removed around $64 million in funding from Planned Parenthood, choosing instead to fund groups that do not perform abortions.

The exclusion of funding for abortion providers and their affiliates was part of a proposal submitted by the state of Texas to renew its agreement with the federal government.

While insisting that Medicaid does not pay for abortions, the Center for Medicaid Services has argued that it is illegal for Texas to stop funding Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions.

The Obama administration has issued similar rulings for two other states.

In September, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would directly give a contract to Planned Parenthood if the state of New Hampshire refused to issue the $1.8 million contract to the organization on the grounds of abortion.

The administration also told the state of Indiana that it could not choose to withhold funds from   providers because they perform abortions. Indiana is appealing the decision, which involves between two and three million dollars.

Texas will now have to work with federal officials to determine if an arrangement can be made to continue federal funding for the Women’s Health Program.

Dr. Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life, said that “Texas has every right to deny millions of tax dollars to Planned Parenthood.”

He noted that Texas law still allows funding for hundreds of women’s health providers in the state, including many that provide “comprehensive primary and preventative care to low-income women.”

By threatening to cut off money for the program, the Obama administration has shown that funding Planned Parenthood is a higher priority than medical care for low-income women, he said.

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