American Elephants


They Say “Don’t Mess With Texas” For a Reason. by The Elephant's Child

The State of Texas has a program called Women’s Health Program (WHP) which provides  family planning and women’s health examinations to low-income women who earn too much to qualify for regular Medicaid.

State legislators set funding priorities for the agencies that disburse federal funds. Texas adopted a rule last year to prevent any of the WHP funds from going to clinics that provide or refer for abortions — notably planned Parenthood franchises, which had received 40 percent of the program’s funding.

The problem is the same one that was raised in the Komen kerfuffle. Planned Parenthood was ostensibly being reimbursed for providing health services like mammograms and cancer screening, but Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms nor cancer screening, but just refers patients to someone who does.

In December, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) informed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission that , in its opinion, Texas restrictions on the program were unlawful. CMS said Texas cannot restrict the distribution of its WHP funds because patients have the right to choose a Medicaid provider — and threatened to withdraw the funds entirely unless the restrictions were removed.

The battle is about Texas Right to Life and pro-life legislators efforts to defund the state’s abortion industry. Planned Parenthood believes they are entitled to government funding, and intend to lash out. The legislature’s rules and funding priorities have reduced the federal funding by 37% over the past year, resulting in the closure of twelve Planned Parenthood branches. The funding has merely been redirected, and thus has not restricted poor women’s access to necessary and preventive care.

The Obama administration has indicated that it would reduce its support for health care in Texas rather than let the state decide that the money shouldn’t go to supporting abortion providers. The administration has withdrawn $30 million worth of funding from the Texas Medicaid program. Kathleen Sebelius even traveled to Texas to announce  the withdrawing of funds. The federal government favors abortion, and expects Texas to recognize that fact.  Heavy hand of government.

Texas says they will fund the program themselves. Of the more than 1.000 certified WHP providers across the  state, Texas law excludes fewer than 100 Planned Parenthood providers. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has issued an opinion declaring that federal law allows states to exclude abortion providers and their affiliated organizations from Medicaid. Texas considers Planned Parenthood a poor allocation of public funds.

Taxpayers are certainly not in agreement with the idea that they should fund, through the federal government, a major abortion provider. Some people find that morally repugnant. The federal  government’s powers are limited. Why can’t Obama grasp that simple fact?




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