Feds: TX Women's Health Program Funding Ends Dec. 31

Protesters on March 6, 2012, rallying at the Capitol against the likely demise of the state's Women's Health Program.
Protesters on March 6, 2012, rallying at the Capitol against the likely demise of the state's Women's Health Program.

The federal government will halt funding for Texas’ Women’s Health Program on Dec. 31, the country’s Medicaid director wrote in a letter to state health officials the day after her boss, President Obama, was re-elected.

“We have committed to working with you to ensure that any transition or phase-out would minimize disruption in critical health care services for women in Texas,” Cindy Mann wrote. “…We cannot continue to provide full federal funding for a program that is not in compliance with federal law.” 

The Obama administration’s decision to halt funding for the reproductive health and cancer screening program is in response to state leaders’ decision to oust Planned Parenthood and other clinics affiliated with abortion providers from the program.

Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said the state had been awaiting formal word from the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS).

“We had asked CMS to put in writing when the Medicaid funding for the program might end,” she said. “Now we finally have that confirmation.”

Texas health officials have been in the process of transitioning to a state-run program. But they continue to be tangled up in litigation with Planned Parenthood, which has asked for an extension of a restraining order blocking their exclusion from the program.

“We see their stalling tactic for what it is,” Gov. Rick Perry said of Planned Parenthood on Thursday, “yet another attempt to unashamedly defy the will of Texas voters and taxpayers.”

In her letter on Wednesday, Mann repeated that the Obama administration sees Texas’ effort to exclude Planned Parenthood clinics as a violation of federal law. “It restricts women’s ability to receive services from the qualified family planning providers of their choice,” she wrote.

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