Texas sub­mits con­tro­ver­sial abor­tion Med­i­caid waiver

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By Vir­gil Dick­son

Texas health of­fi­cials last week asked the CMS to ap­prove a fam­ily plan­ning pro­gram that would ex­plic­itly ex­clude Planned Par­ent­hood and providers that sup­port or per­form abor­tions. If ap­proved, the waiver would set a precedent for Med­i­caid-funded fam­ily plan­ning pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to Stacey Pogue, a public pol­icy an­a­lyst for the Austin, Texas-based Cen­ter for Public Pol­icy Pri­or­i­ties.

When the waiver was ini­tially re­leased in May, it was crit­i­cized for po­ten­tially vi­o­lat­ing fed­eral law and jeop­ar­diz­ing pa­tients’ ac­cess to their doc­tors if they are af­fil­i­ated with any provider that sup­ports or per­forms abor­tions.

Texas lost fed­eral fund­ing for its fam­ily plan­ning pro­gram, known as Healthy Texas Women, in 2013 af­ter it stopped re­im­burs­ing for ser­vices per­formed at Planned Par­ent­hood. Since then, the pro­gram has been to­tally state-funded.

Now fac­ing a $2 bil­lion bud­get short- fall, Texas is look­ing for ways to re­duce spend­ing and is seek­ing up to $300 mil­lion in fed­eral funds to con­tinue Healthy Texas Women for an­other five years.

Few, if any, women are get­ting abor­tions paid for by Med­i­caid, as that’s pro­hib­ited by fed­eral law with the ex­cep­tion of cases when the mother’s life is in dan­ger or if the preg­nancy is the re­sult of rape or in­cest.

In­stead, a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic is often where they see their pri­mary-care doc­tors or get screen­ings for ail­ments such as breast can­cer.

The CMS is tak­ing com­ments on the waiver through Aug. 4.

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