Medicaid Women's Health Program Is One Step Closer To Death

suehs.jpg
The vagina demagogues: Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs and Governor Rick Perry.
The Medicaid Women's Health Program provides some 130,000 Texas women with vital medical care: family planning, birth control, cancer screenings and annual exams. And for that, of course, it must die. That, at least, has long been the case as far as Republican lawmakers are concerned. And after last week, the demise of the WHP looks more likely than ever, as does a nasty showdown between the feds and the state government.

We've written before about Republican lawmakers' hostility towards the WHP. To review: the governor's office and conservative legislators are not fans of the program because Planned Parenthood is one of the providers that takes part in it; in fact, about 40 percent of WHP clients use a Planned Parenthood clinic as their primary care doctor. Last legislative session, Republican lawmakers added language to the WHP rules banning family planning clinics that are "affiliated" with abortion providers from taking part in the program, something clearly aimed at cutting Planned Parenthood out. The only problem with that: The feds provide 90 percent of the money for the WHP, and federal Medicaid rules say you can't block qualified healthcare providers from participating in a Medicare or Medicaid program.

Medicaid itself doesn't pay for abortions. Ever. But the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) already had to send a memo to all 50 states this summer reminding them that they're not allowed to block qualified providers. Despite that, Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs signed a rule last week that does just that. The new rules formally ban healthcare providers with "abortion affiliates" from participating in the WHP.

What's not clear, at least right now, is how CMS and the federal government will choose to respond: cut all federal funding to the WHP, effectively killing it, or allow the rule blocking Planned Parenthood to go forward, allowing Texas to violate federal law and forcing nearly half of WHP clients to find new healthcare providers. Ozinal Alper, a spokesperson for CMS, will say only, "We are in contact with state officials but can't speculate at this point."

Governor Rick Perry's administration is clearly gearing up for the program's end and making sure to blame the president along the way. Allison Castle, a spokesperson for Perry, told the Texas Tribune: "The Obama administration is trying to force Texas to violate our own state laws or they will end a program that provides preventative health care to more than 100,000 Texas women. This boils down to the rule of law -- which the state of Texas respects and the Obama administration does not."

Groups across the state that oppose legal abortion say they are also Very Concerned about the possible demise of the WHP, which they too cast as the Obama administration's fault. In a statement, Texas Right To Life director Elizabeth Graham blamed it on "Obama's relentless support of unrestricted abortion." She writes:

"President Obama is playing politics with women's health by forcing his radical abortion agenda on low-income women in Texas. Women don't want to receive their health care services at abortion clinics, and President Obama has directed the CMS to shut down a program that serves low-income women unless the program includes abortion clinics; he has clearly overstepped the line.

Planned Parenthood, of course, sees it a little differently. ""Even as more than one-quarter of Texas women are uninsured, and women in Texas have the third highest rate of cervical cancer in the country, Governor Perry is determined to make a bad situation worse for women in the state of Texas," Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said in a statement. "Texas would rather throw health care for hundreds of thousands of women overboard than allow Planned Parenthood to provide health care like breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and STD prevention through public health programs."

Interestingly, ACLU of Texas, which doesn't usually weigh in on healthcare issues, is also unhappy with Perry. In a statement sent out to reporters last week, executive director Terri Burke said, "In a state that has decided to spend less on our children's educations, it isn't surprising that now it cuts state spending on health care for poor women. The result is that while the state thumbs its nose at $9 of federal money for every $10 spent on this critical preventive health care, public hospitals will end up picking up the tab."

CMS officials haven't set a timeline for how they'll respond to Texas' new rule; if they do nothing, its set to take effect March 14. Women using the WHP: Get your healthcare while it exists.



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42 comments
Catracha7980
Catracha7980

Your statement sounds like your situation wasn't in Texas? SOME not all states, are liberal on their programs, some states do allow adults who are low-income to get healthcare through medicaid. If they are disabled on SSDI or on TANF in the state Texas then as a adult they get medicaid But thats it. The HHSC programs for each individual state is different so you can't always blame the feds for how the program(s) are administered. I don't think making parents who are already on drugs take a test to get benefits does any good for the children, sure the kids medical needs werent met in your situation, but if you make those same parents go through those kind of hoops then you will see a worse domino effect on those kids because the parents won't even TRY to get those benefits that benefit the children. You were also lucky that you even got any state benefits at all, i wish my husband who is a NURSE could get ANY healthcare but it's too expensive for ourselves and his job doesn't offer it.  What we need NOT to forget is that the HIGH expense from these programs are not so much from situations like the one you provided, but it comes from the disabled and elderly, those two groups have the highest needs and expenses, in other words they are the expensive groups that get their needs cut because we don't think of these groups, we only think of the young couple who gets benefits and do drugs with a rabbit of kids. The reality is that while there are sad cases, they are rather small and like i said the groups that suffer the most are the kids, elderly and disabled...and i think we will see a higher instance on fraud found with SSDI along with medicare trucking right behind it rather than these other programs. Just my two cents.

kris8124
kris8124

If the Women's Health Program is cancelled, it's the Obama administration's fault!

The State Legislature and the Governor are more than willing to fully fund the Women's Health Program. The state's application for renewal of the program, which expires on March 31, makes it clear they want the program to continue and will have more than 2,400 providers available when fewer than 50 Planned Parenthood sites are excluded from funding.

Cathy McManus
Cathy McManus

Ricky,  if you cut the Texas Medicaid Womens Health Program what will you cut from the Mens Health Program? Hmmmm..... I have a suggestion and you can be the first.  

libertarianinLA
libertarianinLA

Perhaps all states should screen and monitor their Medicaid recipients more closely.  Medicaid was covering  two able bodied adults who were "employed" selling drugs, (one of whom I am pretty sure was still collecting unemployment benefits) with an 8 year old (not enrolled in school for 4 weeks last spring) and infant in tow.  How do I know this?  I have the Texas Medicaid statement because we took in the two children as both of their parents were supposed to be in drug treatment (more like they were running from law enforcement). One parent (father of the baby) committed suicide, and the mother took off, leaving two of her three children (all with different fathers, the oldest having been taken from her by the courts) in the care of others.  Of course, though, the mother refused to allow us to adopt the children, even as she is now out cavorting with other men, as evidenced by her Facebook page.  Can you imagine the trash that has filled the 8 year old's head, as she has latched onto every man her mother allowed into her bed, since she never knew her incarcerated father? This is what we get when the government assumes parental roles - paying for services for able-bodied adults -  in exchange for votes.

 I also support a mandate requiring that all women and men receiving Medicaid be drug-tested every three months to maintain their benefits, or even just mandated drug testing of all pregnant women at their regular physician visits.  In our situation, the 8 year old came to us with 10 cavities, several of which had been diagnosed more than six months prior, but she told me the stepfather said they had no money to have them filled.  After I went through all the hoops to get the children set up with Medicaid in our state (and the baby was of course behind on shots), I took the 8 year old to get the cavities filled.  Thanks be to Medicaid it cost us nothing, exactly what it would have also cost the mother and stepfather when the child was first found to have cavities.  I will say Medicaid was the only taxpayer-funded benefit we received for the children while in our care - we paid for school and childcare for the children as well as for their other needs.   Medicaid coverage for children is clearly a critical need, but I do think parents should be accountable for ensuring their children receive timely, needed care, or be visited by social workers.  And how is an able bodied man in his early 30s able to enroll in Medicaid?  I thought it was established to help children and pregnant women!  And I know should the mother ever actually decide to enter taxpayer-funded treatment (as family has already spent tens of thousands of dollars to get her help which she refused and she cannot be involuntarily entered in a program without verification that she threatened to kill herself or someone else), she will be most grateful to the taxpayers that pay for her treatment and have paid to cover her children's insurance during the times she was out selling drugs and herself.

Slaree213
Slaree213

I can only go after March 25, if I go before it's money out of my empty pocket and I am having pain on my left side, symptoms of ovarian cysts/cancer :(

Montemalone
Montemalone

Quit electing Perry and the rest off these shit-for-brains morons, and we won't have to deal with this nonsense. So long as Texans continue to vote against their own best interests. nothing will change.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Texas Tribune has an interactive on its website today that shows all the clinics in Texas who provide women's health and family planning services through this program.  All of them will be hurt. Costs will skyrocket.  Our health and human services budget whole will get much worse.

Look at the face of Commissioner Suehs.  Another middle-aged, overweight white guy making decisions for me and my sisters.  Really?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Get it through your damn heads, Republicans: Abortions are legal. Talk to the US Supreme Court if you don't like it, which obviously you don't. Stop acting like petulant bullies when it comes to women's rights.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Just to clarify, but "women's healthcare" is NOT going away.

What may be going away is yet another entitlement spending program.

I'm not saying that is necessarily a good thing, but let's quit playing games with this and discuss the real issue at least.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Its not the women or their wombs .It is about a state spending cut. And it looks like it worked !

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

The solution is to build an electrified border fence around the uterus.

NAQER
NAQER

All the Texas lawmakers did was effectively cut Planned Parenthood (Abortion Express) out of the state funds. If Obama wants to be stupid and cut federal funding for the rest of the WHP in Texas, then I believe it is he who will be responsible for so many women going without healthcare. Pretty sure any of those women going to Planned Parenthood currently on the Texas taxpayers dime would have no trouble seeing a physician for breast and cervical cancer screenings (Mentioned above as Cecile Richards' big problem with this issue) The taxpayers should not be responsible to provide free birth control and STD prevention. If you make the choice to engage in an activity that could get you pregnant or an STD... you should pay your own money for that!  

Guest
Guest

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."-Blase Pascal a 16th century mathematician  wrote this.People take a good look at Your politicans, you voted them inNOW, vote them out.

Commonsense
Commonsense

It is time for women voters to unite and throw these bums out. They can do it.

guest
guest

Hey ask us what we want! Obama is not doing this, our own state is doing it to us in spite of Obama. What is wrong with you? Playing games with financially challenged people's lives? If WHP gets closed down it is because of the ignorance that seems to run rampant in our state government.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Can anyone explain to me how cutting public health funding is supposed to be: a) beneficial to society as whole or b) the foundation of conservative political thought.

Many of my friends accuse me of becoming 'too liberal' (I'm a conservative you see) and moving to the left.  I didn't understand it until JFPO off-handedly explained it in another post.  I haven't shifted left or right all that much.  The whole political climate has shifted to the right so far that I now have more in common with liberals than I do with "conservatives".  My former compatriots now line up somewhere to the right of Ghengis Khan.

I didn't leave the Conservatives, they left me and became something far more sinister, Republicans.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

 Folks it is what the Majority of the Fellow Texans have wanted for years.

It is here .

So what do the folks want to do about it ?

Bwestbury
Bwestbury

Once again Texas has shown that it ranks right up there with Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia in its backwardness and stupidity. For some reason the public continues to elect these ignorant despots to run their affairs.  God help them.

fairview kid
fairview kid

This is a big crock of shit.  Perry is trampling on impoverished women in order to score some kind of inane points with the Bible beaters.

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

For a group that wants to cut costs and save money spent on "poor people," this isn't a smart solution. As the ACLU quote says, it will only be more expensive for women to get treatment at public hospitals. It's sad that Perry and other GOP leaders let their politics interfere with the health of the state's residents who have the least amount of power and influence.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Again, I dont understand why the mouth-breaters in this state keep electing the nuts whom try to play both sides of the card..I've said it once and i'll say it once more: Texans need to demand both term limits and recall ability in all their leaders in state government...

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

There is a difference between "legal" and "worthy of tax funded support".

Let's see a bill that provides low cost booze to low income residents and lets see how that goes over.  After all, drinking is legal.  Or maybe one that provides subsidized cigarettes to low income men.  Smoking is legal, too.

Edward
Edward

Okay: The Real Issue is that the Texas Legislature has gone out of its way to cut women's healthcare in Texas. I'm not sure there's any other way to put it. 

Whether or not you think low income women deserve any kind of government supported healthcare (or you would rather they just die and get it all over with) is a peripheral element – we could argue that all day, right?

The essence of this is that the Texas Legislature and Governor Perry specifically created this issue, and are willing to let Texas women get sick and die. That will be the end result. 

PLUS millions of additional dollars spent in emergency rooms (yes, those sick Plano people coming down to Parkland).

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

And if you insist on eating meat every day, washing it down with soda and fries, and develop hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, you should pay your own money for that too.  And while we're at it, why provide free prescriptions for any purpose under your theory?  Most if not all of them treat problems that can linked to personal habit.  How's that for you?

EDM
EDM

According to the article, 90% of those "state funds" are provided by the federal government.

I would have thought the federal rule would trump the state rule.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

 For those of you wondering - you can find your neighborhood Abortion Express in the alley behind any Panda Express

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

If you haven't read it, see David Brooks' column in today's New York Times.  His point exactly.

Edward
Edward

But you see, it has absolutely nothing to do with benefits to society or improving women's health. The new Republican party has made it crystal clear that they have zero interest in anything other than abortions and gays. 

If thousands of women end up sick and/or dying due to their new rules, they will gladly say "It's Obama's fault!" and carry on with their lives, feeling perfectly happy because in their minds they have won the battle.

They believe that it's women's fault they get pregnant or sick. Because we all know that successful people who make their own way in life and don't depend on the government don't get sick – it's only those lazy, welfare/illegal aliens that allow themselves to get cancer.

jfpo
jfpo

I haven't changed much either over the years, but I thought I was becoming more conservative as I went through my thirties. Two terms of Bush and Rick Perry took care of those ideas. I'm entering my 12th year of living here and Perry has been the only governor I have known. He sure does a lot of damage for an allegedly "weak" governor. The majority of voters outright baffle me.

Montemalone
Montemalone

But he loves men.{which is unfortunate, don't want him on our team, not even in the same stadium}

Montemalone
Montemalone

 We should have a TAKS test for all candidates for public office.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Planned Parenthood does quite a bit more than arrange abortions for poor folk. Your comparisons are asinine--it's much more like attempting to cut funding to the DMV because they license people who don't use turn signals.

NAQER
NAQER

That is an excellent idea for me! Thank You! And because I have the 'personal habits' of eating right (no fast food, soda or other crap ever!), doing the "Insanity" workout every morning, and getting good info from nutrition coaches, massage therapists, and others (which I pay for myself), there is no way I should be required to pay medical expenses for someone who smokes, eats fast food, drinks too much soda or beer, doesn't exercise, or who generally lacks the willpower to have good 'personal habits' (Including who they decide to tango with when nobody is looking). How is your blood pressure, blood sugar level, and artery health? Mine's looking pretty good. When is the last time you've been sick? It's been years for me. More people in this country need to take personal responsibility for their habits, no doubt. But I suppose you prefer a government handout, yes?    

cliffhanger
cliffhanger

If he'd just loosen up and admit he likes men, maybe he wouldn't be so damn terrified of vaginas.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Funding is fungible, Scruffy.  You know that.  Don't play obtuse on that point.

Lost in  Collin County
Lost in Collin County

 Cliffhanger, we've been asking them that for years!  They turned the one we did have into a county building years ago.  This is a very conservative county so of course, we aren't going to consider the poor people.  It's a religion for them, like it is for the majority of the lege.

cliffhanger
cliffhanger

So, Dave, when is Collin County going to build a public hospital so the rest of us can quit subsidizing healthcare for the suburbs?

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