AUSTIN — Texas health officers are asking the federal authorities to decide up the tab for the state’s women’s health program, 5 years after dropping out on hundreds of thousands of federal dollars for excluding Planned Parenthood as a program supplier.
An advisory committee on the Texas Health and Human Services Commission heard public remark Monday on the state’s software, which seeks $405 million for household planning dollars over the subsequent 5 years.
If permitted, state officers stated it might release state cash going in the direction of this system and would increase entry to care for low-income women. But critics say if Trump administration officers grant the state’s request, it might ship a message to Texas that its efforts to prohibit Planned Parenthood — and entry to abortion — are permissible.
Federal Medicaid authorities stopped funding the state program in 2012, after Texas vowed to block public dollars from going to Planned Parenthood. The transfer violated a federal requirement that permits Medicaid customers see the supplier of their selection.
Texas has lengthy appeared to restrict the operation and scope of Planned Parenthood, focusing its efforts each on the arm of the group that performs elective abortions and the one that gives common health care and household planning providers.
“The state is now testing the current administration to see if they’re going to be able to get away with it,” stated Yvonne Gutierrez, government director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. “It really opens up a huge can of worms that could be very destructive.”
A choice in Texas’s favor might have nationwide ramifications, Gutierrez stated, as states working towards Planned Parenthood look to Texas for instance of how to prohibit its operations.
“I think that states would rightfully think that (the federal government) would allow it for them too,” stated Adam Sonfield, a senior coverage supervisor on the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for abortion rights. “That is a serious concern, that suddenly those floodgates would open and we’d be endorsing practices that are contrary to current law and contrary to the intent of the program.”
In addition to banning Planned Parenthood as a supplier, the Healthy Texas Women program requires minors to have parental consent for contraceptives. Sonfield stated that violates federal regulation that requires household planning protection for all Medicaid enrollees, no matter age.
“I don’t want to predict what (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) will do, but certainly all of the signals that we’ve seen out of CMS under the Trump administration is that they’re eager to give deference to states in terms of their waiver applications,” Sonfield stated, indicating that Texas’s software could possibly be accredited.
HHSC spokeswoman Carrie Williams stated the state was inspired to “present new and innovative ideas” to the federal company that oversees Medicaid.
“There is a new administration, and we’re looking at what funding opportunities may exist for us,” she stated in an e mail. “It’s about funding, not about changing the program.”