Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services cut off all Medicaid funding for family planning to the state of Texas. The announcement came after Republican Governor Rick Perry decided to exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving any of the federal funding.
Currently, the federal government pays for approximately 90 percent of Texas' $40 million Women's Health Program, which provides uninsured women with access to contraception, mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, OBGYN exams, etc. Texas currently has the largest number of uninsured people in the country, so this program is pretty crucial. Planned Parenthood operates about half of the clinics that benefit from the program.
But Perry refuses to support the "abortion providers", even though none of the federal money from the Women's Health Program goes to abortions. In a letter to President Obama last month, Perry wrote, "The federal government should not be in the business of protecting abortion providers at the expense of the health of Texas Women." Apparently, Perry thinks that providing women with access to things like cancer screenings harms women if it occurs in a Planned Parenthood building. And he thinks that taking away access to crucial health services by defunding Planned Parenthood will improve the health of women in Texas. It doesn't make sense to me, but maybe God told him this would work at his prayer rally last year?
Perry says that the federal government's decision to revoke the Medicaid funding is part of Obama's "pro-abortion agenda." But in a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services yesterday, they said that the administration's hands are tied. “Medicaid law is very clear; a state may not restrict patients’
choice of providers of services like mammograms and other cancer
screenings, if those providers are qualified to deliver care covered by
Medicaid. Patients, not state government officials, should be able to
choose the doctors and other health care providers that are best for
them and their families. In 2005, Texas requested this same authority to
restrict patients’ choices, and the Bush Administration did not grant
it to them either.”
Perry better stop blaming this on Obama's political agenda and pretending his decision had anything to do with women's health. The reality is that 130,000 women in Texas are now losing access to health services because of Perry's blatant disregard for federal law and anti-choice agenda.