Now facing a $2 billion budget shortfall, Texas is looking for ways to reduce spending. The state on Friday posted a draft Medicaid waiver seeking up to $300 million in federal funds to continue Healthy Texas Women for another five years.
The CMS confirmed receipt of the waiver and posted it to its site for comment on Wednesday. In its waiver application, the state defended itself against criticism that access to care would be harmed by the proposal.
Texas noted that current outreach efforts for the HTW program have resulted in an 82% increase in participation in the program since July 2016 and it expects enrollment to grow from the estimated 676,000 women in the program this year to 774,000 in 2023.
Since there are no program changes to HTW, just a proposed change in how it's funded, Texas officials said they didn't know how federal support would jeopardize care.
Texas said it believes the CMS has the authority to waive compliance from a statute prohibiting willing providers from seeing Medicaid patients.
The CMS will receive comments on the waiver through Aug. 4.
Of the more than 74 million people on Medicaid, nearly 17 million are non-elderly women who depend on Planned Parenthood as their primary source of essential healthcare.
Few, if any, of these women are getting abortions paid for by the program, as that's prohibited by federal law, with the exception of cases of where the mother's life is in danger, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Instead, a Planned Parenthood clinic is often where they see their primary-care docs or get screenings for ailments such as breast cancer.
An edited version of this story appears in Modern Healthcare's July 10 print edition.