A few days ago, we told you that Texas's Medicaid Women's Health Program appears to be on death's door, which could leave some 130,000 low-income Texas women without vital medical care. We also mentioned that Gov. Rick Perry's administration appeared eager to blame the program's end on the feds broadly and the president specifically. Things are heating up fast on that front: Late yesterday Perry released an editorial blasting "Obama's twisted set of values" and "continued disregard for the basic concept of states' rights," while pledging to fight "any and all efforts to destroy or dilute the protections we've put in place for our unborn."
To review, Perry's missive comes after Texas Executive Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs signed a provision into law last week that bans healthcare providers with "abortion affiliates" from being a part of the Women's Health Program. It's a move that seems designed to cut out Planned Parenthood, whose clinics see 40 percent of WHP patients. But blocking qualified healthcare providers is a violation of federal law, and the WHP is largely funded by federal money: Uncle Sam provides $9 for every $1 Texas puts into the program. CMS, which has told states before not to do what Texas done did, still hasn't formally responded to the new rule.
In the meantime, though, Rick Perry's come out swingin', accusing the president's administration of "putting their political agenda ahead of sound policy and the delivery of cost-efficient health care," and of the ominous-sounding "federal encroachment" (though no mention is made of the feds paying for 90 percent of program in the first place. Details, details.) Texas, the governor says, "is an easy target for such attacks because we value life and have worked hard to preserve and protect its sanctity over the years."
And yesterday seems to have been a day of outraged letter-writing for state politicians: Hours before Perry's note went out, the Texas Tribune reported that Rick Perry received a letter of his own, this one from Texas Health and Human Services Commission Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs.
Suehs, who also cc:ed Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus, argues that the feds cutting off funding to Texas would be an affront to states' rights. Inevitably, he says, it would lead to a state of affairs in which Texas would be forced to allow "tax cheats, deadbeat parents, and even people suspected of serious abuse to participate in the Medicaid program. This is a risk I am unwilling to expose our clients to."
Suehs and Perry agree that if the program ends, as Suehs puts it, "it will end because the federal government preferred to promote its support of abortion providers and their affiliates rather than the health of Texas women."
In other words: cutting out Planned Parenthood is a caring move. And a blow for liberty. And a defense of the unborn. Just in case you were confused.
The new rule is still set to go into effect March 14. In the meantime, Texas women, try not to worry about losing your healthcare. Take comfort in the fact that your governor has pledged to fight against "the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to seize more control over the actions of every state, every town and every household." Very reassuring.
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