"Look what I did!" (Leschnyhan/Dreamstime.com)
Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that they would be informing the State of Texas that the state would lose basic health and family planning services funding from Medicaid because it is in violation of federal law. The state wrote Planned Parenthood out of the state's Women's Health Program, a Medicaid-waiver program.
As of today, Texas has been officially informed that the funding is lost, via this letter from HHS official Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations (CMSO). Here's the key part:
Texas has elected to move forward with a State rule that restricts freedom of choice of health care providers for women enrolled in WHP effective March 14, 2012 Consistent with longstanding statutory provisions that assure free choice of family planning providers, the Demonstration does not provide the State the authority to impose such a limitation, and we advised the State in our December 12, 2011 letter that we had concluded that such authority would not be granted. We very much regret the State's decision to implement this rule, which will prevent women enrolled in the program from receiving services from the trusted health care providers they have chosen and relied upon for their care. Last year, nearly half of all the services under WHP were provided by clinics that are likely to be excluded from the program under the new rule.
In light of Texas' actions, CMS is not in a position to extend or renew the current Demonstration, except for purpose of phasing out this Demonstration.
An HHS official told reporters today
“Medicaid law is very clear; a state may not restrict patients’ choice of providers of services like mammograms and other cancer screenings, if those providers are qualified to deliver care covered by Medicaid. Patients, not state government officials, should be able to choose the doctors and other health care providers that are best for them and their families. In 2005, Texas requested this same authority to restrict patients’ choices, and the Bush Administration did not grant it to them either.”
The war on women's health just resulted in 130,000 casualties
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