Hutchison Enters Debate Over Women's Health Care

Feds pull funding over Texas restrictions

By Scott Gordon
|  Thursday, Mar 22, 2012  |  Updated 11:22 PM CDT
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Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says Gov. Rick Perry should work out a dispute over federal funding for the Women's Health Program.

Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says Gov. Rick Perry should work out a dispute over federal funding for the Women's Health Program.

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Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on Thursday called on fellow Republican Gov. Rick Perry to settle a funding dispute over health care for poor women.

"I do think the governor needs to sit down with the federal government and work it out," she said in an interview on MSNBC.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it would cut $35 million in Medicaid funding after Texas decided to disqualify Planned Parenthood from participating in the Women's Health Program.

A new state law cuts off funding to groups such as Planned Parenthood that also perform abortions -- even if the procedures are done at separate locations.

Perry has said the state should have the right to set such rules, but the federal government argues that women should be allowed to go to any qualified provider, including Planned Parenthood. The Obama administration said federal law requires women be able to choose any qualified clinic.

Fort Worth Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger of the Beth-Al Congregation is one of several religious leaders who wrote a letter to Perry asking him to reconsider the decision.

"This is all of the sudden, 'We're out to get Planned Parenthood because they do abortions,'" he said. "But none of this money goes for abortions. This is political grandstanding from Austin. It's not from Washington."

The governor said Texas will find the money to fund the program itself, but critics say the budget is already extremely tight.

"There's no reason the state of Texas shouldn't take $35 million of federal dollars that we've been taking each year to serve poor women," Mecklenburger said. "One-hundred-and-thirty-thousand people are going to go unserved because of this ridiculous decision."

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