Now Texas wants the money back.Depending on how you look at it, Texas’ latest move in its fight against Planned Parenthood is either refreshingly honest or disturbingly cruel. Four years ago, Texas refused $35 million in federal Medicaid dollars for the privilege of excluding Planned Parenthood from a family-planning health program that serves low-income patients. Now, the state is admitting that it’s deprived women of necessary care and asking Donald Trump to give that money back—without the requirement, enforced under the Obama administration, that states allow Medicaid patients to use those funds wherever they wish, including Planned Parenthood.
Medicaid’s “free choice of provider” provision is one of the only things standing between Planned Parenthood and the GOP’s repeated efforts to “defund” it by preventing patients on Medicaid from getting care at its clinics. Texas is hoping that Trump, who once made the laughably daft suggestion that Planned Parenthood stop performing abortions in exchange for keeping its Medicaid patients, will show about as much deference to this longstanding rule as he has to other health-care protections for low-income Americans. If he does agree to restore Medicaid funds for Texas’ family-planning program, other states led by anti-abortion elected officials will surely follow suit and cut Medicaid patients off from the care they’ve been receiving from Planned Parenthood’s health centers.