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Texas Defies Feds On Funding For Women's Clinics

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - A battle over abortion could kill a program providing 130,000 women in Texas with free healthcare.

On Thursday, the state's director of Health and Human Services, Commissioner Tom Suehs, signed a new rule, banning Planned Parenthood and other affiliates of abortion providers from participating in the Texas Women's Health Program.

"The federal government was very clear that you can't exclude a provider," said Planned Parenthood of North Texas CEO, Ken Lambrecht.

The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services has claimed the ban on Planned Parenthood violates federal laws preventing the state from excluding any qualified providers.

The state disagrees.

"Federal law allows states to administer Medicaid and set the criteria for providers in the program. That's what Texas is doing," said Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the state agency.

If the two sides can't come to agreement, the program will end March 14, the day the new rule takes effect.

"It's ridiculous.  It's sad that the governor and state legislators turned their back on women in Texas," said Lambrecht.

More than forty percent of the women participating in the program currently do so through a Planned Parenthood clinic.

The program brings about $3 million dollars to North Texas alone, benefiting an estimated 6800 women locally.
"We have a state law that our Attorney General says is constitutional… We can't violate a valid state law just to please Washington. We hope CMS will reverse its position and allow the program to continue," said Goodman.

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