We’ve all been hearing about the supposed “War on Women” by Conservative law makers – and, by extension, voters – in Texas. Well, President Obama and Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebellius just fired another shot in the war against Texas and State’s rights.
UPDATE: In an emailed statement, Texas Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Carrie Williams says that the agency just received notice that it will lose the Title X grant and is “reviewing the information to get a sense of the full impact.” The agency hopes the transition is smooth and the provider base remains strong, she wrote.
EARLIER: The federal government has pulled from the state of Texas millions in family planning funding, granting the money instead to a coalition led by the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, which says it can serve a greater number of women with the available funds.
For more than four decades, federal Title X funding has been dedicated to funding family planning services and covering clinics’ infrastructure costs. The funds are generally granted to providers (like Planned Parenthood) and/or to state health agencies. In Texas since 1980, the majority of the funding has been administered by the Department of State Health Services — roughly $18 million in 2012, for example; since 2009, DSHS has been the sole grantor of Title X funds.
(Edit, maybe it’s only half of that.)
Before this year, Federal tax dollars came back to Texas in two major funds: the Women’s Health Program and Family Planning, or Title X funds. Texas “matched” a certain amount and the Texas Department of Health and Human Services administered the dispersion of the money. Because the money paid for or freed up other funds for staff, marketing, and “infrastructure” or office overhead, PP was helped to keep their abortion clinics running. The overall effect was that State matching tax dollars helped PP to funnel patients, if not dollars, to their abortion clinics.
Texas was forced to make severe Budget cuts across the board in 2011, including Family Planning funds. This led to prioritizing what little money we had:
“State lawmakers cut funding for family planning services by two-thirds in the last legislative session, dropping the two-year family planning budget from $111 million to $37.9 million for the 2012-13 biennium. They also approved a tiered budget system for family planning funds, which gives funding priority to public health clinics, such as federally qualified health centers and comprehensive clinics that provide primary and preventative care over clinics that only provide family planning services.”
Guess what? States are allowed to decide what they want to spend tax money on!
From the ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court on Texas’ Law prohibiting our Family Planning tax funds from going to any “affiliate” of an abortion provider or anyone who “promotes” abortion: ”
Although this restriction functions as a speech-based funding condition, it also functions as a direct regulation of the content of a state program, and is therefore constitutional . . . “[W]hen the government appropriates public funds to promote a particular policy of its own it is entitled to say what it wishes.” Rosenberger, 515 U.S. at 833 (citing Rust, 500 U.S. at 194).
Once again, please look at the Texas Tribune’s own interactive map or the State’s data base of doctors and clinics who have contracted with Texas’ WHP. Those Planned Parenthood clinics aren’t located in health care shortage areas. There are no shortages of willing providers for the services in question in the areas surrounding the abortion affiliates.
The San Antonio Express News published an editorial August 9th, by O. Ricardo Pimentel, entitled, “Texas tries to get between you, your doctor:”
For them, the issue isn’t abortion; it’s about the doctor-patient relationship, patient health and the ability to put everything on the table that needs to be discussed. Even if it’s abortion.
In a recent letter to the state, the Texas Medical Association, joined by other medical groups, said Texas is about to embark on a plan for providing medical care to low-income women that will impose a “gag order” on discussing abortion even on doctors working with patients not in the program.
Other groups, weighing in during the public comment period on proposed state rules, have similar concerns.
It’s a plan, they say, that will ensure not enough doctors for this program willing to provide care, including family planning services. And this, they say, will guarantee more unintended pregnancies, more abortions and more illness that might have been prevented for low-income women.
Among those also commenting on the rules were the Center for Public Policy Priorities, and leaders of Planned Parenthood entities in the state, South Texas groups among them.
Trust me, for everyone who is mentioned above, it’s about abortion. The law doesn’t stop anyone from discussing or even promoting true contraception that doesn’t end the life of our youngest children of tomorrow.
And it is about “elective abortions:” those that are performed on health babies in healthy mothers. We’re not talking about the more controversial abortions in cases of rape and incest, much less in the cases of congenital disorders that are “not compatible with life outside the womb and certainly not in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. Since when do elective abortions “need to be discussed?”
How difficult is it to understand that Texas taxpayers should not pay for “promotion” of abortion? Or that we most certainly do not want our State tax funds to go to doctors who perform elective abortions on healthy babies and healthy mothers?
While I don’t speak for the Society, I am an elected delegate for my County Medical Society to the TMA House of Delegates and I believe that most of our members would agree with me on this. I am very much in favor of restricting payment from our limited State funds to only those doctors and organizations that provide comprehensive and continuing medical care for the whole woman and her whole family. With Texas Family Doctors, Internal Medicine Docs, Pediatricians and OB/Gyns reeling from the lack of increasing fees from Medicare and decreases in Medicaid funding, why not help keep them in business by adding the availability of billing the State for screening tests like pap smears, exams for breast masses, diabetes and high blood pressure?
In fact, that’s what the Legislature decided: that money would be prioritized. First come the comprehensive care docs, hospitals, and county and city clinics. Planned Parenthood is never mentioned, although there is a section of the law that absolutely prohibits the State from contracting with anyone who “promotes” abortion *if there are other qualified providers available.*
Texas DHS has already identified more than enough doctors and clinics that qualify under the law. These doctors can actually treat the diseases for which the Texas Women’s Health Plan screens. Our Texas Legislature made a wise decision when they agreed that it doesn’t make sense to send our few dollars to a clinic that treats a very narrow medical spectrum in an intermittent manner.
And the law has already saved human lives: Austin city and Travis County taxes once paid for 400 elective abortions each year. A year ago, the law achieved what the taxpayers who protested this use of their money couldn’t do: Austin and Travis County health clinics were forced to stop funding those abortions.
If you have a family doctor, consider a polite call to his or her front desk asking them to let the TMA know their views on using Texas’ tax funds to support Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
You might also consider contacting Texas Alliance for Life and/or you local Crisis Pregnancy Center to let them know that you support their efforts to keep your State (and federal) tax funds from paying for the ending of lives of our Texans of tomorrow.
Planned Parenthood (“PP”) for years has used the media and fraud to bring in clients when those women could have gone to a family doctor or OB/Gyn. Below are three ways to find a local doctor who participates with the Women’s Health Program in Texas.
As a woman doctor, mother and grandmother from Texas, I support Governor Perry in his support of the law, passed once again by the Texas Legislature last summer, that prohibits any of our tax funds going to any “affiliate” of abortionists. Senate Bill 7, the huge law covering Texas medical financing, was passed in the Special Session of the 82nd Legislature and renewed a State prohibition on any Texas Medicaid funds going to “perform or promote elective abortions, or to contract with entities that perform or promote elective abortions or affiliate with entities that perform or promote elective abortions.” (See page 91.)
The Obama administration and countless media and op-ed articles would have us all believe that the law is new, but it’s not. The original Women’s Health Program (“WHP”) was created in 2005 and received a 5 year waiver from the Bush Administration in 2006, as finalized in these documents from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. All of these facts are outlined in the Complaint filed by Attorney General Greg Abbott in his lawsuit against Kathleen Sebelius and Obama’s Health and Human Services:
11.From the outset of the Women’s Health Program, the Texas Legislature has explicitly prohibited taxpayer funds from going to entities that perform or promote elective abortions. The Legislature also prohibited taxpayer dollars from funding affiliates of entities that perform or promote elective abortions. See id. § 32.0248(h) (“The department shall ensure that the money spent under the demonstration project, regardless of the funding source, is not used to perform or promote elective abortions. The department, for the purpose of the demonstration project, may not contract with entities that perform or promote elective abortions or are affiliates of entities that perform or promote elective abortions.”).
Read the next few paragraphs of the Complaint for comments on dates and on approval of the waiver without restrictions on Texas’ prohibition on abortion providers. Please note that the waiver was requested in December, 2005, and approved in December, 2006, for a period of 5 years, to end December 31, 2011. It is not true, as reported by a spokesperson for Secretary Sebelius, that the waiver was denied.
Texas law prohibited State funds from going to any provider who performed or referred to elective abortions beginning in 2003. Under a provision known as “Rider 8,” the State began requiring recipients of Medicaid and Family Planning money to sign an affidavit that they did not perform or refer for elective abortions. Texas won when PP challenged Rider 8 in Federal Court. The various PP sub-corporations in the State then set up separate corporations for the “medical affiliates” that were not licensed to perform abortions and the “surgical affiliates” that did perform elective abortions. These were shams, as all of the corporations came under the direction of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and some even shared buildings and staff. It turned out that 4 of the facilities run by the PP Trust of San Antonio and South Texas didn’t even bother with the sham. They were found to be illegally performing medical abortions, and were fined and shut down in 2009 as unlicensed abortion clinics and for fraudulently billing Medicaid.
- There are more than 2,500 qualified providers in the WHP.
Planned Parenthood represents less than two percent of providers in the WHP.
- Planned Parenthood’s cost per client is 43 percent higher than most other providers, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
- In FY 2010, nearly 80 percent of women served received WHP services from non Planned Parenthood providers.
What did happen is that last year, Attorney General defined “affiliates.” Logically, subsidiaries of a given corporation, such as all the “medical affiliates” of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, are “affiliates” of that corporation.
PP and their supporters would have us believe that hundreds of thousands of women will go without care because of the Texas law. On the contrary, those affiliates were easily replaced. Thousands of qualified doctors and clinics already participate with the Women’s Health Program in Texas.
And there are several ways to find one of the qualified providers for the Women’s Health Program in your town:
In Texas, we have “2-1-1,” a State services telephone information line. You can call 2-1-1 from any phone to find all sorts of assistance in your area, including doctors who participate with the WHP. I’ve heard that this may not be the most up to date or complete list, however.
Texas Tribune published an interactive map that highlights the color coded stark reality of the differences in numbers and in the distribution of PP versus the many doctors who currently participate with the Women’s Health Program. Notice that Planned Parenthood only shows up where there are lots of other providers. Where there aren’t many doctors, there are definitely no PP facilities.
For the most accurate and largest number of WHP qualified doctors and clinics in your area, Texas’ Department of Health and Human Services has a search engine available here. Use the “Advanced Search,” then choose Plan type:”Traditional Medicaid,” Provider type: “Specialist” (although this will actually bring up family physicians and other primary care docs), and Waiver type: “Women’s Health Program.” You can search by County or by Zip Code.
Hopefully this information will help you answer the critics of Texas, our Legislature, Commissioner of Texas’ Health and Human Service Suehs, and our Governor Perry.
Today, the Austin Chronicle, the local “alternative” news source, has yet another article “Perry continues assault on women’s healthcare,” claiming that Governor Perry and the Commissioner of Health and Human Services Suehs have acted – seemingly on their own – to shut down the Texas Women’s Health Program (more info here) in order to spite the poor underdog, Planned Parenthood.
Today’s statement is that “The new regulation signed by Suehs – redefining “affiliate” to mean that Planned Parenthood clinics not providing abortions are deemed affiliated with those clinics that do – conflicts with federal law, as confirmed last week by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.”
Actually, the Attorney General ruled on the definition of “Affiliate.” The Secretary must follow the law passed last Spring by the 82nd Texas Legislature.
It’s not surprising – in fact it’s common sense – that subsidiary corporations are considered “affiliates” by the State, since they are members of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The annual report of PPFA calls these facilities their “medical affiliates.” The President of PPFA, Cecile Richards, shown above with Texas Senator Jeff Wentworth at a Planned Parenthood of San Antonio and South Texas event, visits these subsidiaries in her official duties.