Hutchison Urges Perry to Reconsider Health Program

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison talks with supporters at the Bonnie Ruth's Cafe in suburban Frisco, TX during a campaign stop for the Republican nomination for Texas governor.
U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison talks with supporters at the Bonnie Ruth's Cafe in suburban Frisco, TX during a campaign stop for the Republican nomination for Texas governor.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison broke ranks from her party on Thursday to urge Gov. Rick Perry — her opponent in the 2010 Texas governor's race — to re-negotiate with the Obama administration to keep federal funding for the Medicaid Women's Health Program.

In an appearance on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, Hutchison said Texas "can't keep turning back federal funds that every state gets and then try to find money in our budget which is already being cut in key areas like education."

"I do think that the governor needs to sit down with the federal government and work it out so that we can have our share, our fair share," she added.

Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier fired back, accusing Texas' senior senator of siding with the Obama administration "and its pro-abortion political allies."

"We suspect if the senator was fully aware of the fact that the Obama administration is the one responsible for denying these funds, she would support working with the Texas delegation and state officials to reverse this misguided decision," Frazier said.  

On air, Todd also asked the retiring senator whether Planned Parenthood should be excluded from the Women's Health Program. 

Hutchison appeared to hesitate before responding, "Well, you know, I can't say. ... I think Planned Parenthood does mammograms. They do so much, so much of the health care — the preventive health care, and if they're doing that, then we need to provide those services. Absolutely."

(Earlier this year, when Susan G. Komen for the Cure briefly halted grant funding for Planned Parenthood, abortion opponents pointed out that Planned Parenthood does not own mammogram machines in Texas. Planned Parenthood officials say it's no secret that they offer breast screenings, but refer women elsewhere for mammograms.)

Hutchison's reaction contrasts with state Republican leaders, who have been sending press releases to the media to reiterate their support for Perry's decision to forgo federal funding for the Women's Health Program if the state is not allowed to exclude abortion providers and their affiliates, like Planned Parenthood.

Watch the interview below.

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