AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Eight years after Texas lost federal dollars over barring Planned Parenthood in a women’s health program, the Trump administration Wednesday allowed the state to resume getting as much as $350 million in another reversal of an Obama-era decision.
Texas can receive the money over the next five years while still excluding Planned Parenthood from a state program called Healthy Texas Women that offers family planning and health services, such as pregnancy tests and breast cancer exams, to low-income families.
The decision by Texas in 2011 to exclude Planned Parenthood was part of Republican efforts to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider. Two years later, Texas passed a sweeping anti-abortion law known as House Bill 2, which was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court but not until after the law led to closure of more than half of the state’s 41 abortion clinics.
Texas had been seeking a waiver since 2017 to resume getting access to the federal funds for women’s health.
“The Lone Star State is once again in partnership with the federal government to provide meaningful family planning and health services while fostering a culture of life,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement Wednesday.
Democrats and women’s health organizations criticized the decision, predicting that it would not to lead to more health services for women but would instead simply replace state dollars.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission said in a release that the waiver will provide funding to serve more than 200,000 clients a year.
“This collaboration between Gov. Abbott and the Trump Administration shows how shockingly little value state leaders place on health care for Texas women,” said Dyana Limon-Mercado, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes.
Texas’ efforts to provide women’s health services after banning Planned Parenthood clinics has been at times rocky. An anti-abortion organization called the Heidi Group was given $1.6 million to help strengthen small clinics that specialize in women’s health like Planned Parenthood but don’t offer abortions.
But an Associated Press review found the Heidi Group had little to show for its work, and Texas later canceled millions of dollars in contracts with the organization.
Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber
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