AUSTIN, December 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Obama Administration says it will refuse to fund a massive Texas health program unless the state agrees to pass some of the money along to Planned Parenthood.
Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation this past summer that stripped the national abortion organization of all state funds and prompted the closure of multiple abortuaries. But when the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) submitted a request for federal funding of the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program, the Commission was told that it would have to defy the new law if it wanted the money.
According to the Texas Tribune, Cindy Mann, director of the federal Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, sent a letter to Texas officials claiming that attempting to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds violated the Social Security Act.
“We want to be very clear [that] Medicaid does not pay for abortions and will not pay for abortions,” Mann told the Tribune in a phone interview. “The issue here is not whether Medicaid funding is involved but whether the state can restrict access to a qualified health provider simply because they provide other services Medicaid doesn’t pay for.”
The news service also reported that Mann said the agency intended to continue to fund the Texas program until March while a decision was made as to how to proceed.
Tom Suehs, HHSC’s executive commissioner, said in a statement that the denial of funds was itself “inconsistent with federal law,” since states have the right to “establish qualifications for Medicaid providers.”
In a statement issued Monday, Gov. Perry accused the Obama Administration of “holding women’s health care hostage because of Texas’ pro-life policies.”
“We are committed to protecting life in Texas, and state law prohibits giving state dollars to abortion providers and affiliates - a fact the Obama Administration ignores,” Perry said, adding that Texas women were “pay[ing] the price” for the administration’s “pro-abortion agenda.”
He urged the administration to grant a waiver that would allow the state to continue receiving the funds necessary to operate the Women’s Health Program.
The Lone Star State is not the first to have its federal funds threatened in retribution for refusing to give money to Planned Parenthood. The New York Times reported in May that the administration had threatened to withhold Medicaid money from Indiana for the same reason.
Then, in July, a New Hampshire official revealed that federal officials had ordered the state to fund Planned Parenthood by August 15, saying that refusal to comply could lead to sanctions in the form of withheld federal health care funds. The Obama administration subsequently went over the heads of state officials and awarded a federal grant to Planned Parenthood in the state.