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Obama Rejected Texas’ Anti-Choice Health-Care Program. Now the State Is Appealing to Trump.

Teddy Wilson

Critics of the program dispute Attorney General Ken Paxton’s claim that the success of the program is “not dependent on Planned Parenthood’s participation."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) sent a letter Monday lobbying the Trump administration to restore federal funding for a state program that’s supposed to provide health care for low-income women—without a full range of reproductive services. 

The Obama administration in 2012 rejected the state’s application for a waiver to receive federal funding for its Medicaid Women’s Health Program, in response to the state’s decision to exclude abortion care “affiliates” such as Planned Parenthood.

Texas officials in 2013 launched a state-funded version, which was plagued with problems. The state relaunched the program in 2016 as the Healthy Texas Women Program (HTWP), providing health care and family planning services for women with low incomes between the ages of 18 and 44. The HTWP website says the program offers “birth control, pregnancy tests and counseling, and health screenings and treatment for hypertension, diabetes and cholesterol,” with no mention of abortion care. 

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission in June 2017 submitted a Section 1115 Waiver application to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), asking the agency to restore federal funding for the program and allow the state to exclude abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

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Federal Medicaid dollars would cover 90 percent of the state’s program costs.

Paxton, an abortion rights foe, wrote that federal funding is needed to “increase access to women’s health, family planning, and preventative health services for lower income women in the State.” The funding will further federal and state policies that “favor childbirth and family planning services that do not include elective abortions or the promotion of elective abortions,” he wrote. 

Critics of the program dispute Paxton’s claim that the success of the program is “not dependent on Planned Parenthood’s participation,” and argue that even if the waiver is approved it will not “repair the damage already done.”

Officials from CMS told Rewire.News they can’t speculate on the status waiver applications or the timeframes of when the agency may approve or reject the application. The Texas waiver request is pending, according to the CMS state waiver list.

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