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Texas Fully Funds Women’s Health Program Without Planned Parenthood

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 4/16/12 6:24 PM

State

Abortion advocates complained the state of Texas would leave women high and dry without access to a women’s health program now that the state has decided to revoke taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

Despite prohibiting it from participating in the legitimate medical program, Texas officials have found a way to fully fund the program to provide women with non-abortion reproductive health care at hundreds of other locations across the state. Billy Milwee, the state’s Medicaid director, discussed the funding in a recent town hall, according to KERA-News.

Milwee: We’re going to continue without our current program through the end of October and the first of November we stand up a Texas Women’s Health Program, which is totally funded by the state. It won’t have a federal contribution.

Milwee says they are enforcing the state law banning Planned Parenthood and others starting May first. He expects about 3 percent of all statewide Women’ Health Program providers will be removed from the program. And he says that could mean an adjustment for some patients.

Milwee: They may have to find a new provider. We’ll help them do that. But, the services will continue.

Milwee says they’re still working on a budget, how much money they actually need. The current cost, funded primarily with federal funds, is about 40 million dollars a year. Milwee says they’ll find it in the state budget – money already appropriated.

Milwee: We’re working as hard as we can to identify where those funds will come from without affecting any, having a negative impact on any other programs.

Last week, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas for its decision to revoke taxpayer funding for the abortion business in its state family planning program. The pro-abortion group contends that the new law prohibiting it from participating in the Women’s Health Program is unconstitutional discrimination.

The lawsuit asks the court for an injunction to stop enforcement of the rules preventing Planned Parenthood from getting taxpayer funding via the program , saying the rules violate their rights by putting an “unconstitutional condition on their participation” in the Women’s Health Program.

The lawsuit also alleges the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which is enforcing the rule, “overstepped its authority in adopting a rule that conflicts with the purpose of the laws that created the program.”

The Obama Administration cut off the Women’s Health Care Program (WHP) for over 100,000 Texas women at over 2,400 providers for the sake of Planned Parenthood, which provides only limited health service at 44 facilities in Texas. In response, Governor Rick Perry says the state will look to funding the program on its own.

Last year, Governor Perry and the Texas legislature took action to assure better health care for low-income women, prioritizing WHP funds for providers that do not perform abortions and are not affiliated with abortion centers. WHP funds provide services to at least 70 health providers in the San Antonio metro area, whereas only seven Planned Parenthood receive the funds.

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Linda Schlueter, President of Trinity Legal Center, says, “Women will receive better care as a result of Texas law that passed overwhelmingly during the June 2011 special session. Women can see physicians who provide comprehensive primary and preventative care; whereas, at Planned Parenthood they usually only see a physician if they have an abortion.”

Furthermore, Planned Parenthood cannot treat breast cancer, does not offer prenatal care, or does not have mammogram machines, Schlueter said.

“In effect, the Obama administration is sacrificing women’s health to make sure Planned Parenthood gets at least $17 million in taxpayer funds, regardless of their inability or unwillingness to provide more comprehensive care,” Anne Newman, Director of Communication and Policy for Trinity Legal Center. “This is an effort to support Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation’s multi-billion dollar abortion industry, which has recently come under intense controversy and criticism across the nation.”

Texas has applied for renewal of the program which makes it clear that the legislature and Governor want the program to continue.

“Planned Parenthood has mounted a disingenuous media campaign across Texas to discredit Governor Perry and mislead the public into believing that Governor Perry is at fault.  If Texas’ application for renewal of funds is denied, it will be the sole responsibility of the Obama Administration,” Schlueter said.

The Medicaid Women’s Health Program provides preventive health care to over 100,000 low-income women in Texas every year.  The program is up for renewal and will expire on March 31, 2012 if an extension is denied by the Obama Administration. The Obama Administration has threatened to deny renewal of the WHP if Texas does not fully fund Planned Parenthood, according to a December 12, 2011 letter.

In press release dated December 12, 2011, Governor Perry stated in part: “I strongly urge the administration to do the right thing and grant this waiver, so Texas women can access critical preventative health services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings, rather than making them pay the price for its pro-abortion agenda.”

There are over 2,400 qualified providers of the Medicaid WHP in Texas; only 44 Planned Parenthood facilities currently receive the funds.

Schlueter points out that Planned Parenthood of San Antonio operated four abortion facilities illegally without a license for as long as four years. They were discovered and fined more than $100,000 by the State and required to return hundreds of thousands in WHP Medicaid funds in 2009. Planned Parenthood of El Paso abruptly closed in 2009 and was found to have engaged in Medicaid fraud.

The decision to cut Planned Parenthood funding also already forced the abortion business to close several centers throughout the state.

In December, the Obama Administration refused to renew funding for Texas’ Women’s Health Program (WHP) because of new state rules that disqualify abortion business affiliates from participation in the program. The WHP encompasses Medicaid family planning services for low income women. The program started through authorizing legislation in 2005 and was renewed in the recent 82nd Legislative Session with new pro-life rules.

Planned Parenthood—the number one abortion business in Texas—circulated a letter in the Capitol, confirming that they provide over 40% of the services in the entire WHP and legislators responding by yanking taxpayer funds to ensure Texas residents were not funding an abortion business. Governor Rick Perry signed the de-funding law to the delight of pro-life advocates.

Pro-life advocates credit Texas legislators and officials for ensuring money is not flowing to an abortion business.

“The Legislature has spoken. The attorney general has said it is constitutional. The Commissioner has signed the rule,” said Kyleen Wright, president of the Texas for Life Coalition. “If Planned Parenthood cared as much about affordable health care for women as they say, they would get out of the way so that the program could continue.”