Texas submits controversial abortion Medicaid waiver
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.