Texas AG suing feds over women's health care program

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Mar 19, 2012


AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a complaint in federal court Friday, challenging the Obama administration's decision to stop federal funding for a state women's health program.

Abbott's office said the administration decided it will no longer provide funding for the Texas Women's Health Program "solely" because state law prohibits taxpayer funds from going to organizations that perform or promote elective abortions.

The Texas Women's Health Program, or WHP, is a state program administered by the state Health and Human Services Commission, or HHSC. It provides family planning and related health care services for women who do not qualify for health care coverage under the ordinary Medicaid program.

More specifically, WHP, which was established by the state Legislature, provides services to women ages 18 to 44 with incomes at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

The State of Texas pays 10 percent of the cost of the family planning services offered by the program, and 50 percent of the administrative costs. The federal government pays the remaining 90 and 50 percent shares.

"The Obama administration's decision interferes with Texas' successful efforts to promote women's health," Abbott said in a statement.

The attorney general, in his 17-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Waco Division, contends that by all accounts, the program has proven effective.

"By the end of 2010, 292,680 Texas women were enrolled in the Women's Health Program," he wrote. "HHSC estimated that between 2007 and 2009 Medicaid savings totaled $121 million. Of that, federal taxpayer savings totaled an estimated $63 million.

"By expanding family-planning services to low-income women who do not qualify for Medicaid, the Women's Health Program has saved state and federal taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually in avoided Medicaid expenditures."

The attorney general said the lawsuit seeks to overturn the administration's "misguided" decision to shut down the program and reinstate the federal funding that previously supported the program.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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