Texas gov asks Trump to approve funds for program that excludes Planned Parenthood

Texas gov asks Trump to approve funds for program that excludes Planned Parenthood
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE to approve federal funding for a family planning program that excludes Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, a move that could set off a wave of similar actions in other red states.

Abbott argued that his state's program is consistent with policies the Trump administration announced last week, when it rescinded Obama-era guidance protecting abortion providers from such actions. 

"The approval of Texas’ waiver is not only consistent with the policies you announced last week, but also will set a powerful example of the impact of your decision to rescind previous guidance from the Obama administration," Abbott wrote in a letter to Trump on Tuesday.

The Obama administration withheld $35 million a year in Medicaid family planning funds from Texas after the state began excluding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from the program. 

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Now, Abbott is asking for the money back to fund its Healthy Texas Women Program, while still excluding Planned Parenthood. 

If approved by the Trump administration, it would pave the way for other states to cut Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid programs.

"The Obama administration stripped hundreds of millions of dollars from Texas’ women’s health program, simply because Texas refused to fund abortion providers or their affiliates through the program," Abbott said. 

"We appreciate the significant steps you have outlined to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent in accordance with a culture that prioritizes life. Reinstating federal funding for Texas’ women’s health program provides an additional opportunity to put those values into action, all while supporting health care access for Texas women."

The administration said last week it would rescind the Obama-era guidance, issued in 2016, that warned states against ending Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.

In a press call with reporters last week, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official called the move an effort to "roll back regulations the Obama administration put out to radically favor abortion." 

"Reinstating the pre-2016 standards frees up states to once again decide for themselves what reasonable standards they use to protect Medicaid programs and their beneficiaries," said Charmaine Yoest, assistant HHS secretary for public affairs.

Texas submitted the request in July, and it's not clear if it will be approved by the administration. 

Anti-abortion groups have touted the Trump administration's actions as an "important step" toward defunding Planned Parenthood. 

But Planned Parenthood called Abbott's request an effort to take away rights from women and others who already face "unequal and unfair treatment."

"We have to keep fighting to make sure everyone gets the health care they want or need, without politicians controlling when, how, or why," said Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas.