Update, March 10: Federal Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced late Friday in Houston that federal funding to the WHP would be cut. She said the program will wind down over the next several months, and that the feds are considering funding Planned Parenthood directly. In response, Allison Castle, Perry's communications director, released a statement from the governor's office, which read, in part,
"The fact that the Obama Administration would announce its decision to deny care for more than 100,000 low income women during a press event before giving official notice to the state is a clear demonstration of the political motivation behind this decision. This tactic is an affront to the more than 100,000 women served by this program. We await official word from the Administration on this matter and in the meantime, at Gov. Perry's direction, the state continues to move forward to ensure low-income women will not lose access to this preventative care. Gov. Perry will continue to fight this egregious federal overreach and defend life, our state's laws and the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Original item, Friday, March 9:The argument between Texas and the feds over the fate of the Medicaid Women's Health Program keeps dragging on, with the federal government still not saying how it'll respond to a new rule from Texas that blocks healthcare providers with "abortion affiliates" from participating in the program, a violation of federal law.
That rule, as we've told you before, is set to go into effect March 14. Late yesterday, Governor Rick Perry's office issued a release promising that the WHP would be saved:
"Gov. Rick Perry today said he is unwilling to let more than 100,000 low-income Texas women pay the price for the Obama Administration's unwavering loyalty to abortion providers and their affiliates."
The governor didn't go into just how the WHP would be saved without Planned Parenthood being allowed to remain in the program; Perry's office continues to insist that PP "represents just two percent of enrolled providers statewide," without mentioning that its clinics also see 40 percent of WHP patients.
Instead, Perry has apparently directed Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs to "identify state funding to continue to provide these services," although the feds currently supply 90 percent of the funding for the program. Perry also wrote to Suehs that "Texans send a substantial amount of our tax dollars to Washington, DC, and it is unacceptable that the Obama Administration is denying Texas taxpayers the use of those dollars to fund this program, simply because of its pro-abortion agenda."
The release adds that "Texas will carry the costs from the time the Obama Administration cuts funding for the program until this impending decision is reversed, either by negotiated resolution or litigation."
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The program will expire March 31 if the federal government doesn't grant Texas's request for a waiver from Medicare and Medicaid rules, which prohibit blocking qualified providers from the program.
Obviously we can expect everyone in this situation to put aside their partisan differences and pull together for the good of low-income Texas women, whose healthcare will be absolutely decimated if the WHP dies. Or, no, wait, Rick Perry has something else to say, this time to President Obama:
"Your administration's attempt to violate states' rights under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by mandating which health providers the State of Texas must use is nothing more than an effort to continue to financially support abortion providers like Planned Parenthood and their affiliates."
Yep. This should end well.