March 19, 2020

Harris, Senate Democrats Condemn Trump Administration on Approval of Texas Medicaid Waiver that Limits Women’s Choice of Health Care Provider

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday joined Senators Ron Wyden, (D-OR) and Patty Murray, (D-WA), and 30 of their Senate colleagues in condemning the Trump administration’s decision to approve a Medicaid waiver request submitted by Texas that allows the state to receive federal funding while excluding providers like Planned Parenthood from their family planning program. 

In a letter addressed to Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, the senators wrote, “Texas women should be able to depend on access to all qualified providers so they can get the family planning services and preventive care they need. CMS’s approval is in violation of Congressional intent and federal law and must be withdrawn.”

The senators also highlighted that after the Obama administration declined to approve a similar request from Texas in 2013, Texas decided to forgo federal support moving forward with the discriminatory program. Following that decision women in Texas experienced worsening health outcomes and access to health services. Despite recent evidence, Trump’s CMS approved the Medicaid waiver request for Texas earlier this year.

“Unfortunately, instead of working to address the poor health outcomes that have arisen from restricting beneficiaries’ choice of qualified provider in Texas, CMS has now approved Texas’s request … to operate its family planning program without applying Medicaid’s longstanding guarantee allowing women to choose their own family planning provider and significantly restricting providers available to beneficiaries of the program,” the senators continued.  

The approval of the waiver, the senators argue, “[is] clearly part of this Administration’s ongoing efforts to undermine access to family planning providers, including Planned Parenthood, and advance ideological goals without concern for the health and well-being of women across the country … with the ultimate goal of making legal abortion services unavailable in states such as Texas.”

Joining Harris, Wyden, and Murray on the letter are U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

A copy of the letter is available here.

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