Texas wants to defund Planned Parenthood, like so many Republican politicians and state legislatures. They equate Planned Parenthood with abortions. So, they wrote a law that limits funding for the Women’s Health Program, which provides routine exams, contraception and preventive health services to low income women by denying funding for any organization that shares a name, ownership or board of directors with a clinic that performs abortions. This exceeds the Federal mandate that organizations that receive federal health funding be separate from those that provide abortions and there be no mixing of funds. Federal law prohibits the use of Federal funds for abortions.
Well, the Feds were providing 90% of the funding for the Texas Women’s Health Program, until they lege said no funds could go to Planned Parenthood because it shared things with abortion providers. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services shot back that the state would lose all funding if they cut off a certified provider like Planned Parenthood. Texas said, fine, cut us off.
Now, they have to pay for it, all $35 million worth by the start of the next fiscal year, October 1, 2012. The lawsuits are flying. The state’s Attorney General Greg Abbott sued the Feds and nine clinics have sued the state.
Governor Rick Perry very grandly announced that the state would pick up the costs, without bothering to ask the lege if they could afford it. Texas liked to say that they had managed to find enough cuts in their budget to eliminate the $27 billion deficit, but former Lt. Governor Bill Ratliffe says it’s all bogus. The “balanced budget” was created using revenue projections that were not borne out by real revenue. So, now that the realities have set in, Texas is asking please, sir, may we have some more? They want an extension of the federal funding until the end of November, so they have time to find the money.
Currently, there are 292,000 Texas women enrolled in the health program and 40% of them use Planned Parenthood clinics. The state is trying to find new providers for them, and trying to recruit new doctors and clinics willing to take on Medicaid patients. The state says it will take 143 days to implement new regulations, and there must be a public comment period which will last from June 18 to July 30. The new rules would become effective on September 1, but the money won’t be in place until November.