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Congressman Marc Veasey

Representing the 33rd District of Texas

Veasey, Eddie Bernice Johnson Urge Trump Administration to Reject Texas’ Latest Attack on Women’s Health

Aug 7, 2017
Press Release
105 Democrats urge CMS to reject Texas’ proposal to undercut poor women’s access to family planning services

Washington, D.C. – Texas Representatives Marc Veasey (TX-33), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Beto O’Rourke (TX-33), Pro-Choice Caucus Co-Chairs Diana DeGette (CO-1), and Louise Slaughter (NY-25), and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) co-led 105 Democrats in a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma urging the Trump Administration to reject Texas’ section 1115 Medicaid demonstration waiver request.  The waiver seeks federal payment for the state funded and operated “Healthy Texas Women” (HTW) program that currently excludes reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood and other abortion service providers from participating.  The HTW family planning extension program was created in 2013 after the Obama Administration rejected a similar waiver request because it attempted to restrict beneficiaries’ choice of family planning providers.

Texas’ proposal is the latest attack on women’s health and blatantly ignores the failures of the current “Healthy Texas Women” program. In particular, the letter signers express grave concern that Texas’ waiver application includes specific measures to exclude family planning organizations that counsel or provide abortion services such as Planned Parenthood from Medicaid reimbursement and imposes a parental consent requirement for teens age 15 to 17 attempting to access birth control. CMS’ approval of the waiver would not only violate Medicaid’s freedom of choice provision but sets a dangerous precedent for other states who want to find backdoor methods to restrict women’s reproductive health care access.

Representatives Veasey, Johnson, O’Rourke, DeGette, Slaughter, Schakowsky, and 105 Democratic colleagues make it clear that Texas’ application ignores the intent of Medicaid waiver program and will only hurt low-income women who already struggle to access family planning and preventative health care.

When Congress established the 1115 waiver authority, its intent was clear. Section 1115 waivers must promote the objectives of the Medicaid program, but they also must be experimental in nature. In addition, 1115 waivers are intended to investigate new and innovative ways to expand eligibility or services, or to examine pioneering delivery system reforms.

The strong evidence of the negative public health impact of HTW is proof that Texas’ model has already been tested and proven to be detrimental to health care access, coverage, and public health. Furthermore, approving Texas’ proposed waiver would run counter to Congressional intent in its establishment of 1115 waivers--the protection of freedom of choice of family planning providers, and the Medicaid program as a whole.

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To read the full letter, please click here.