The Women’s Health Program (WHP), a Medicaid reimbursement program for family planning services, was established by the Texas Legislature as a five-year demonstration project in 2005. The program is set to expire this August unless authorized by new legislation. When the 2005 bill to establish the program originally passed, language was added to restrict the program from abortion providers, but the Health and Human Services Commission was unable to implement the restrictions in the program’s operations due to federal Medicaid rules.
Very recently, Attorney General Greg Abbott released opinions ruling that our state’s Health and Human Services Commission could adopt rules for this program, and more importantly, that adopting rules does not conflict with federal Medicaid rules. Thus, legislators interested in renewing the WHP have incorporated stricter requirements for participation in the WHP, excluding abortion providers from the program while being mindful not to step outside federal Medicaid rules.
By its own admission, Planned Parenthood (PP) serves almost half of the clients enrolled in the WHP, receiving tax dollars through Medicaid reimbursements for each client served. Understandably and predictably, the bills to renew the program would indeed disqualify PP from the participation in the program since Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood Federation of America just issued a requirement that all clinics affiliated with its brand must now provide abortion or release affiliation with the PP brand name.
The language to restrict abortion providers or agencies that are affiliated with abortion providers from the WHP is now more important than ever.
Like all family planning funds, the WHP has become yet another funding stream for the abortion industry. TRTL’s legislative team has worked closely with members of both the House and the Senate to ensure that the WHP’s reauthorization would exclude the abortion industry and its affiliated clinics.
State Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) redrafted his bill
, Senate Bill 1854, to address concerns about the funds to the abortion industry. The new language ensured that Texas women have adequate access to preventative care and family planning services while simultaneously excluding abortion providers and affiliates from participation in the WHP. In fact, Senator Deuell’s new language is so well done that PP now opposes the bill since PP will no longer be eligible for participation in the WHP.
SB 1854 now stipulates if the law is challenged in court and found to be unconstitutional, then the WHP will altogether cease. This provision guarantees that no agency or clinic that provides or refers for abortion or affiliates with such an agency or clinic will receive any tax dollars through the WHP. Texas Right to Life commends Senator Deuell for his leadership on restricting the program to agencies and organizations that provide a full spectrum of health care services and that are not colored by participation in the abortion industry.
Desperate to keep every cent of blood money flowing into their coffers, the abortion giant’s leadership is crying foul. Even Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and daughter of former pro-abortion Texas Governor Ann Richards, came to Texas last week to protest the exclusion of PP from the WHP. Ms. Richards spoke at a sparsely attended gathering of nags on the steps of the Texas Capitol, calling for sympathetic legislators to kill SB 1854. If PP cannot kill SB 1854—in a surprising twist of the WHP drama, PP will pursue litigation.
Ironically, the program needs renewing legislation to continue. PP does not like the renewing legislation because it is excluded. PP will sue, but the language says that the program is cancelled if challenged in court. So, PP is out either way, which is a major victory for life.
Texas Right to Life has identified over 300 health care clinics and agencies that provide a very wide spectrum of services; these are clinics in real need of the funds. A boost from WHP reimbursements could enhance their other services and expand their client base. Contrary to what PP officials chant, SB 1854 will still enable women to be served, but women will be served at hundreds of Federally Qualified Health Centers, Community Health Centers, and county and city health centers around the state that are not involved in the deadly abortion business. HOWEVER, women and teens, regardless of their income level, should not be going to facilities that are also in the abortion business for their reproductive health care.
The state budget allocated $166,030,952 to family planning. Estimates are that PP receives approximately $30 million a year in tax-payer funds in Texas, and its own annual report confirms $363 million received nationwide (on top of the $600+ million from private donations and “services”). An organization that is plagued with failed inspections, maiming women, harboring sexual predators AND with $1 Billion in assets (that’s Billion with a “B!”) should not be given ANY public funds. PP does not need to participate in the WHP!
LifeNews.com Note: Emily Kebodeaux is a legislative associate with Texas Right to Life.