Four years ago, the state of Texas lost roughly $35 million in annual federal Medicaid funds after it refused to allow any of the money to go to Planned Parenthood. The state is now on the verge of gaining back those funds — despite excluding the women's health care provider — potentially setting a new national precedent.
"This would have implications nationwide if this gets approved," Jennifer Popik, federal legislative director with National Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, told The Hill. "For an administration with a pro-life focus, this is something they could do to divert funding from Planned Parenthood," she added.
If the request were to be approved by President Donald Trump's administration, Texas would be allowed to receive federal family planning dollars without having to provide any of the funds to an abortion provider, namely Planned Parenthood. Only three percent of Planned Parenthood's budget is used for abortion services, according to the organization's most recent annual report. Due to the Hyde Amendment, federal funds are actually prohibited from being used towards an abortion procedure, The Hill reported.
Under the current health care bill being drawn up by Senate Republicans, Planned Parenthood would not receive any federal funds for one year. "Most of the federal money is paid out through Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor," The Hill reported. Trump's budget as well as the current Republican health care bill intend to make steep cuts to Medicaid, but members of his administration have argued that's inaccurate.
Trump has previously taken aim at Planned Parenthood in the past, both in rhetoric and policy. In April the president signed a bill passed by Congress "aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions," The New York Times reported. The funding was known as the Title X Family Planning Program.
In response to losing federal funding four years ago, Texas created a state program called "Healthy Texas Women." But now, the state is asking for the money back, while still attempting to keep funds away from abortion providers, according to The Hill. The state program "Healthy Texas Women" has not been as successful as it originally promised, and has left thousands of women throughout the state without "qualified family planning providers." Defunding Planned Parenthood has also backfired: rather than reducing the number of abortions in the state, it has "increased teen childbearing and made it more difficult for women to obtain preventative care," according to Dallas News. Texas has the nation's fourth highest birth rate, The Hill reported.
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) is expected to make a decision on August 4, following the end of the federal commenting period, according to The Hill. "If CMS were to approve this waiver and offer federal funding for this program, it would open the floodgates for this to be implemented in other states," Kinsey Hasstedt, a senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, told The Hill.
"It would offer a stamp of approval to violate decades-old Medicaid policy and federal law, which prohibits excluding Medicaid providers from these programs. … It would be a huge shift in how Medicaid is run."