HHS to End Federal Funding for Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the federal government will stop Title X funding for the Medicaid Women’s Health Program in Texas following the state’s passage of a law to ban participation of “affiliates of abortion providers,” including Planned Parenthood, in the exchange. Sebelius indicated that if the state continued to exclude abortion coverage, the federal government would suspend funding for the program as of today, March 14.

Sebelius stated that HHS is “eager to work with Texas to find a solution. But if Texas chooses to go down a road that violates the law, we really have no choice. They knew…they are not allowed to deny women the right to choose [providers]. Women would be losing their doctor, their medical home, their choice.” Sebelius also noted that since “It is illegal to spend any federal money on abortion…This has nothing to do with abortion.”

Clare Coleman, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, staetd, “People think Planned Parenthood equals family planning the way Kleenex the way Kleenex equals tissue, and it’s not true. In a lot of states, there is not state money for family planning. So Title X is the ballgame.”

Prior to ending funding, the federal government covered 90 percent of the cost of Texas’ Medicaid Women’s Health Program. Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, indicated that the state’s maternity care costs will rise by approximately $57 million. Last year, state lawmakers voted to cut family planning services by $73 million, leaving approximately 180,000 low-income women in Texas without access to contraception and preventive services.

National Partnership for Women and Families 3/12/12; New York Times 3/7/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 8/15/12

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