Healthcare Business News

Texas sues HHS over health-program defunding

By Paul Barr and Associated Press
Posted: March 18, 2012 - 12:00 pm ET

Texas' attorney general's office sued HHS in federal civil court in response to the department's decision to terminate federal funding for the state's Women's Health Program.

HHS decided to phase out federal funding of the program because of a recently passed Texas law that effectively prevents women in the program from going to Planned Parenthood for healthcare.

The law, which is designed to prevent state funds from going to any organization with ties or an affiliation to an abortion provider, violates federal Medicaid regulations requiring that women be allowed to choose a qualified healthcare provider, HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius has said. The federal defunding process of began March 15. The program last year cost about $41 million, with about $34 million of that coming from Washington, according to Cindy Mann, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services.

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The Texas suit, which has the support of Gov. Rick Perry, "seeks to overturn the (Obama) Administration's misguided decision to shut down Texas' successful Women's Health Program and seeks to reinstate the federal funding that previously supported the program," according to a news release.

Texas also joined a lawsuit in February seeking to overturn the Obama Administration's rule that requires insurance plans to cover government-approved contraceptives. On March 16, HHS and the Labor and Treasury departments issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that includes proposals and seeks comment from all Americans on how to implement the contraceptive policy.

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