The state of Texas is preparing to foot the entire $40 million bill for the Women’s Health Program (WHP) in the event that the U.S. District Court finds that Planned Parenthood can continue providing services under the program.
Currently, 90 percent of the program is funded by the federal government. The state Department of Health and Human Services claims that it can fund the program by cutting overtime, implementing a hiring freeze for administrative positions, and improving utilization management in medicaid programs.
The Obama Administration pulled federal funding for the program when Gov. Rick Perry announced that any organization affiliated with an abortion provider cannot operate under WHP. According to the Center for Medicaid and State Operations, the state broke federal Medicaid rules by discriminating against capable family planning providers.
Perry’s administration maintains that the state has a right to choose which health providers can operate with WHP funding. Should the program be funded only by the state, WHP Planned Parenthood clinics would only be able to continue participating if they completely disaffiliated from the national organization.
The current Planned Parenthood WHP funded clinics, which do not perform abortions, would have to change their name and dismiss all employees and volunteers affiliated with the national organization in order to continue their participation in the program. In the event that the WHP clinics are located in the same building as Planned Parenthood clinics that perform abortions, they would need to relocate, even if the clinics are housed in different suites.
Planned Parenthood argues that 40 percent of the women enrolled in WHP chose them as their provider and that their participation is crucial to the low-income women who are eligible for the program. Perry maintains that Planned Parenthood represents less than 2 percent of providers in WHP, and the program could survive without them.
Oral arguments for the case are set for Oct. 19. U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel said he would probably not reach a decision before November.