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Feds draw thousands of comments on Texas’ request to renew women’s health funding

Thousands of advocates have flooded the federal authorities with comments this week, weighing in on whether or not it ought to reverse an Obama-era determination to strip Texas of tens of millions in federal funding for a health care program that excludes abortion suppliers and their associates. 

The quantity of comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Texas’ request has doubled in current days, from 9,000 earlier this week to over 18,000 as of Friday afternoon, hours earlier than the general public remark interval ends. The deadline comes as a new report from the liberal Center for Public Policy Priorities suggests the state’s choice to exclude Planned Parenthood from this system was chargeable for stripping health care entry from 45,000 women.

The federal authorities has traditionally declined to give Medicaid funding to states that don’t permit sufferers to select between “any willing provider.” In 2011, Texas ousted abortion suppliers from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which the Obama administration argued violated federal regulation, main to an finish to federal funds.

But with Republicans in management of the White House and each chambers of Congress, Texas is “asking the same question … but hoping that it will get a different answer,” the report says. 

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An affirmative reply would inject greater than $400 million in federal funding over 5 years right into a program that has crippled household planning providers for low-income Texas women, in accordance to Stacey Pogue, who examined 5 years of state health knowledge to writer the brand new CPPP report. 

Commenting closes at 11 p.m. Friday, after which the request goes to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for assessment. Texas has proposed an efficient federal funding date of Sept. 1, 2018. 

After Texas exited the Medicaid Women’s Health program, the state launched its personal women’s health program, which is now referred to as Healthy Texas Women. Under this system, low-income women ages 18 to 44 are eligible for providers together with being pregnant testing, STD testing, breast and cervical most cancers screenings, contraceptive counseling, postpartum melancholy screenings, in addition to assist with continual illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and excessive ldl cholesterol. Fifteen- to 17-year-olds are additionally eligible if a dad or mum indicators them up. The program doesn’t supply abortion providers. 

Since excluding Planned Parenthood — which was by far the most important supplier within the state — the state has enrolled thousands of new suppliers to fill within the gaps. But these new suppliers, on common, present care to far fewer women; even after including three,695 suppliers between fiscal years 2010 and 2016, the state served 36,375 fewer women, in accordance to Pogue’s report.

Pogue stated knowledge from 2011–2016 make it clear that excluding Planned Parenthood has harm women’s health in Texas.

“There are two paths you can take, and you can’t have it both ways: You can either exclude providers that are tested and efficient, fundamental pieces of the safety net, or you can expand services to family planning,” Pogue stated. “But you can’t do both. They are in direct conflict.”

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Joe Pojman, the chief director of Texas Alliance for Life, referred to as the post-2011 strategy “a successful program,” arguing that the thousands of new suppliers the state has introduced on since excluding Planned Parenthood present extra complete and preventive main care.

“I think low-income women in Texas deserve better care than Planned Parenthood is willing or able to offer,” Pojman stated.

But the CPPP report counters that high quality of service has declined even for the women who’re enrolled in Medicaid household planning packages. In fiscal yr 2016, one in 4 women enrolled in this system was by no means seen by a health care supplier for coated providers; earlier than Planned Parenthood was excluded, that quantity was one in 10.

State officers have maintained that they haven’t any plans to change their present strategy on this system. But the Trump administration’s choice might change the funding stream. If the federal authorities denies Texas’ request, the state is probably going to proceed funding packages on the similar degree.

“The access to health care — those harms have already been felt,” Pogue stated. “The waiver question is about the appropriations line that says Healthy Texas Women — is it federal or state dollars?”

At stake is the precedent the federal authorities might set for different states.

If federal officers approve Texas’ request — whereas nonetheless permitting the state to exclude abortion suppliers different states might really feel emboldened to pursue comparable methods. Two different states, Iowa and Missouri, have already forgone federal cash so as to exclude Planned Parenthood; they might possible comply with Texas’ instance and proceed these exclusions with health packages that might be backed by federal dollars.

Dozens of different states which have made comparable efforts to defund Planned Parenthood — however have been unable or unwilling to forego federal Medicaid cash — might comply with Texas’ lead as nicely.

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“If the Trump administration bends the rules here, then we could see even more diminished access to care, by essentially granting funds for a program that doesn’t work and allowing that to be an example for the rest of the country,” stated Yvonne Gutierrez, the chief director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes.

Disclosure: The Center for Public Policy Priorities and Planned Parenthood have been monetary supporters of The Texas Tribune. An entire record of Tribune donors and sponsors is accessible right here.

Read associated Tribune protection:

  • With a Republican president within the White House, Texas health officers are looking for to restore federal household planning funding they gave up underneath the Obama administration to take a stand towards Planned Parenthood. [link]

  • The Healthy Texas Women Program is the state’s second try at reimagining how to present health providers for low-income women with out organizations that present abortions at some of their places. [link]

  • Texas lawmakers handed a invoice in May banning the most typical second-trimester abortion process, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed. [link]

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