Trump administration restores federal funding for Texas after state cut off Planned Parenthood

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Information pamphlets at an Austin-area Planned Parenthood. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Trump administration has restored federal funding to Texas’ health care program for low-income women. The program’s funding was cut when state officials removed Planned Parenthood seven years ago.

The Healthy Texas Women program offers family planning and women’s health services to Texas women who earn less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Limit.

Texas will receive approximately $350 million to be distributed over the next five years for women’s health services, officials with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said.

HHS executive commissioner Dr. Courtney N. Phillips said the state continues “making significant strides in improving access to women’s health and family planning services in Texas.”

In the mid 2000s, state and federal leaders agreed to pay for the previous version of the program by drawing down 90 percent of federal funding, matching with 10 percent of state money. The national Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services declined the state’s request to match the program with federal funding during the Obama administration because Texas refused to fund abortion providers or their affiliates.

In the meantime, Texas used state dollars to fund the program.

State officials re-submitted the Medicaid 1115 Waiver when President Trump took office. Three years later, the request was approved.

The program was revived in 2016 as the Healthy Texas Women program, without Planned Parenthood’s involvement. The program awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of contracts to the Heidi Group, a provider in Round Rock, whose leader is an anti-abortion advocate. The state later cut ties with the Heidi Group.

Services under the Healthy Texas Women program include family planning, breast and cervical cancer screenings, well-women exams and screening and treatment for postpartum depression, hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes.

Gov. Greg Abbott, who is traveling in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, applauded the federal decision to re-establish the partnership with Texas.

“The Lone Star State is once again in partnership with the federal government to provide meaningful family planning and health services while fostering a culture of life,” Abbott said in a statement on Wednesday. “This collaboration is a symbol of our commitment to championing the lives of Texas women. I am grateful to President Trump and his administration for approving this waiver, and for his commitment to protecting the unborn while providing much-needed health resources to Texas women.”

A group of Texas abortion advocates called Trust Respect Access Coalition blasted the approval. The group argues the program “has failed to deliver reproductive health care to those that need it most.”

“Too often we’ve seen this program used as a slush fund that diverts tax dollars from qualified health care providers to incompetent, but politically connected, anti-abortion extremists like the Heidi Group,” the group wrote in a statement. “Today the Trump administration ignored the rule of law and condoned those wasteful practices by Gov. Abbott and his political appointees in Texas.”

The program served approximately 173,000 Texans in 2018. State officials estimated they can serve an additional 27,000 with the federal funding. The approval is effective through the end of 2024.

Medical policy experts expect the decision to go to court.

Women eligible for the program meet the following qualifications:

  • Ages 18 through 44
  • U.S. citizens or qualified immigrants
  • Texas resident
  • Not currently pregnant
  • Does not currently receive benefits through a Medicaid program that provides full benefits, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare Part A or B, and does not have any other creditable health coverage
  • Net family income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level

Last year, state lawmakers made strides in support for women who died after childbirth, while simultaneously banning any government in Texas from contracting, leasing, or donating to abortion providers, hospitals and university protections would remain in place. The state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, issued an opinion at the onset of the year telling state employees they were not allowed to donate to Planned Parenthood through the State Employee Charitable Campaign.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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