Pallone & Green Urge Verma To Reject Texas Medicaid Waiver Proposal for Discriminatory Family Planning Program
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX) today wrote to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma voicing their deep concerns regarding the recently submitted proposal from the state of Texas seeking a wavier that would allow Texas to exclude certain family planning providers, including Planned Parenthood, from the Medicaid program. The two Democratic Committee leaders wrote that not only would Texas’ waiver have a devastating impact on access to care for women, it is also a violation of federal law and longstanding Congressional intent. Texas’ proposal seeks to waive Medicaid’s “freedom of choice” requirement with respects to family planning, a protection which ensures women with Medicaid coverage can receive health care services where they choose and from the qualified providers they trust.
“Granting this waiver application will decrease access to family planning and other preventive services for women, is in violation of statutory provisions required under the law, and is in conflict with longstanding Congressional intent for the Medcaid program,” wrote Pallone and Green. “This proposal only furthers the misguided and harmful ideological goal of limiting access to family planning providers, including Planned Parenthood, while ignoring the public health needs of Texas women. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services must reject this proposal.”
Since 2013, Texas has operated a solely state-funded family planning program that excludes certain family planning providers, after CMS denied a similar waiver request. As a result of this state run program, Texas women’s access to preventive health services has signficiantly deteroriated – with 55 percent of women reporting at least one barrier to accessing reproductive health services, the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives declining by more than one-third, and an increasing rate of Medicaid-funded births, and the doubling of the state’s maternal mortality rate between 2011 and 2014.
Full text of the letter can be found here.