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The QueQue

The QueQue: SA sex trafficking exposed, Texas killing Women’s Health Program quietly

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Shared Hope estimates nearly 200 girls under 18 are sold for sex across Texas on any given weekend. Between 2007 and 2011, 369 children have been identified as domestic sex trafficking victims in Texas. And even while prostituted children are legally defined as victims here, 63 minors were arrested on average each year between 2006 and 2009 on prostitution charges in Texas, the group says.

 

Texas killing Women’s Health Program quietly

GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, going back at least as far as 2005, are finally starting to bear fruit. Apart from the Legislature this year chopping off nearly two-thirds of the state’s $100 million biennial budget for basic family planning services for low-income Texans (a tactic many conservatives championed as a way to ensure Planned Parenthood see none of the funds), the state is finally poised to kick Planned Parenthood out of its Women’s Health Program for good. In doing so, it may have imploded one of Texas’ most successful programs for providing reproductive health care to low-income women and preventing unplanned pregnancies to boot.

The Women’s Health Program, a widely successful Medicaid waiver program providing contraception and general reproductive health care, like preventative breast and cervical cancer screenings, to thousands of low-income and uninsured women across the state is set to expire by the end of the year. And those in Planned Parenthood’s corner worry the feds are wary of approving the program now that Texas has inserted guiding language specifically excluding funding from groups like Planned Parenthood, which provides roughly half of all those services statewide, in an attempt to punish groups linked to abortion.

Last Thursday, the state’s Health and Human Services Commission tried to quash reports that the feds may not renew the program, sending off an email to state lawmakers claiming that any such rumors were unfounded. While HHSC applied for renewal in October, HHSC says the federal government told the commission last week that while it’s still evaluating the program it plans to give it a one-month lifeline, extending it through January 31. Publicly, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and HHSC are mum on the issue. A spokesman with CMS, the federal body that oversees the program, told QueQue this week only that the agency’s reviewing the Texas’ application and that no decision has been made regarding any extension. That seems to clash with word out of HHSC that the feds agreed to kick the can down the road for another month. “At this point, we’re still waiting for a response,” HHSC spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman told QueQue this week.

Soon after the Lege created WHP in 2005, many of the same lawmakers, like Greenville Republican Bob Deuell, tried the same approach, hoping to block Planned Parenthood from any Medicaid funding. At the time, it sparked a legal battle that led to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Planned Parenthood could stay in the Medicaid game and keep its funding, provided it establish separate entities for its family-planning side and its abortion-services side. Planned Parenthood established organizations with separate accounting, separate boards, and separate locations.

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