We used to call it a “Mexican standoff,” but that could be considered bigoted these days. Or at least non-PC.
“Obama Standoff” is a better description for a specific condition – one that’s becoming more common and hitting us more frequently. In the “Obama Standoff,” the Obama administration demands that Texas, some other State, or any individual or organization of individuals with a conscience, violate their own laws, Constitution, or conscience – threatening to withhold Federal tax money, fine, or break that law himself if others don’t comply.
Unbelievably, Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius visited Houston today and announced – on the Friday before the funding for Texas’ Women’s Health Program expires on Wednesday, March 14 – that she is going to deny renewal of the Medicaid waiver. She did this *before* notifying the State or the Commissioner! See the Governor’s announcement in response, here. http://governor.state.tx.us/news/press-release/17025/ )
The Obama Administration doesn’t even care that there will be no meeting of the Texas Legislature until January 2013. Of course, this is the Constitutional scholar in the White House who ignored the meaning of “recess appointment” in January. Why should he honor concepts like the Legislature makes laws and the Executive Branch must follow them?
It doesn’t matter that Texas has had the same law for 10 years any more than it matters that the Catholic Church has opposed contraception for thousands of years. It doesn’t matter that physicians have defended the right to follow their consciences for 2500 years, since Hippocrates’ oath was adopted by the Profession.
Why should they? They don’t care that the First Amendment guarantees the free expression of religion — to “establishments of religion,” by the way!
In a particularly unconscionable moment, one Obama Administration official told representatives of religious organizations that they had a year to reconcile – with Obama, not with God.
And they certainly don’t understand, much less care, what a “conscience” is other than some roadblock in their goal to control and force every doctor to be complicit with ending human life – or at least make sure to move next door to someone who will.
To paraphrase C. S. Lewis: We laugh at honor and are surprised to find treachery among us.
An op-ed by Joe Pojman, PhD, the Executive Director of Texas Alliance for Life, which discusses who is really to “blame” if the Texas Women’s Health Program is cut because we lose our Federal funds. (I’m privileged to be on the Board of Directors of TAL.)
Last June the Texas Legislature overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 7, which allows for the renewal of the WHP, on a Senate vote of 21-9 and a House vote of 96-48. The bill prohibits the state from contracting with entities that “perform or promote elective abortions or affiliate with entities that perform or promote elective abortions.”
Federal law allows Texas to exclude Planned Parenthood. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion declaring that federal law allows states to exclude abortion providers and their affiliated organizations from Medicaid.
There are ample alternate WHP providers in Texas who are not involved in abortion. These physicians and clinics typically offer comprehensive primary and preventative care in addition to family planning. These providers could become the medical home for low-income women. The Obama Administration is about to deny WHP funds to these quality providers, and to the women they serve, just because Texas wants to fund these without funding Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is a poor investment of public funds. Planned Parenthood offers only a narrow range of services and is unwilling or incapable of offering comprehensive primary and preventative care. Planned Parenthood cannot treat breast cancer. They do not even have one mammogram machine anywhere in Texas. The only time a woman will see a doctor at Planned Parenthood is if she is there for an abortion. Women deserve better.
Planned Parenthood should not be trusted with our tax dollars. For example, Planned Parenthood of San Antonio operated four abortion facilities illegally without a license for as long as four years until they were discovered by the State in 2009 and fined more than $100,000. They were required to return thousands of dollars billed to the WHP.
The Obama Administration, not the Legislature or the Governor, will be to blame for killing the Women’s Health Program, if the Obama Administration does not renew the program just because Planned Parenthood is excluded.
The Obama Administration has told Texas that our State is not allowed to decide who will provide medical care under Title X Family Planning and Well Woman funds. The Administration has recently ruled in a similar manner for other States. (
This in spite of the fact that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did give Texas a waiver allowing Texas to move all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries to doctors in managed care plans. The managed care plans, along with cooperative coalitions between hospital systems and the doctors they will pay for seeing managed care patients, is consistent with the plans laid out in “Obamacare.” Evidently, so is Planned Parenthood’s survival.
CMS claims in this letter to Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission that we’re limiting the choices of the women because the State prioritized where to spend our money and who to pay for healthcare, beginning with county clinics and hospital districts, followed by doctors and clinics that provide comprehensive, continuing care. Since we only have so much money, our Legislature decided to support the most vital care givers. Even though we don’t specifically write in law that “Planned Parenthood, Inc., need not apply,” CMS doesn’t like our plan.
CMS was asked to give a “waiver” to Texas since the funding is outside normal Medicaid rules, because it funds care for adults who are not at the rock-bottom income levels. Texas also has a waiver in order to use funds for prenatal care, justified by counting the unborn child. (The pro-aborts have protested over and over that the mother, not her child, should be the one we count and that she should be allowed to use the money for any “reproductive services,” including abortion, that she wants.)
Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life have both issued statements opposing the CMS ruling.
From Joe Pojman, Ph.D., TAL’s Executive Director:
“We believe the State of Texas has every right to deny millions of tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, which is what the Texas Legislature and Governor Perry has chosen to do,” he said. “Senate Bill 7, passed last summer during a special legislative session, prohibits Medicaid tax dollars under the Women’s Health Program from going to abortion providers and their affiliated organizations.”
“This bill excludes several dozen Planned Parenthood sites from the Women’s Health Program, but it does not exclude any other hundreds of Women’s Health Program providers in Texas. Many of the other providers offer comprehensive primary and preventative care to low- income women in addition to family planning, which Planned Parenthood is unable or unwilling to provide,” he continued. “By threatening to cancel the Women’s Health Program in Texas, the Obama Administration is showing it would sooner deny tens of millions of dollars of medical services to low-income women rather than allow the State of Texas to cut off tax funding to Planned Parenthood.”
Addendum: this article from the Houston Chronicle (I quoted from it here) which implies that the ruling may go so far as to overturn our long-standing law that requires providers to sign a contract affirming that they don’t perform or refer for abortions.