Perry Chides Administration for Turning Down Texas Family Planning Proposal

Oct. 22, 2011: Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition presidential candidate forum, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Oct. 22, 2011: Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition presidential candidate forum, in Des Moines, Iowa.  (AP)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused the Obama administration of "holding women's health hostage" for the sake of a "pro-abortion agenda," after the federal government rejected the state's bid to block Planned Parenthood from a family planning program. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services turned down the state's effort to renew an initiative known as the Women's Health Program. The state program has for several years offered Medicaid assistance for low-income women to seek family planning services, but the Texas government drafted new restrictions aimed at squeezing out Planned Parenthood. 

The Obama administration reportedly claimed doing so would constitute a violation of the Social Security Act. 

"Not applying these provisions would eliminate Medicaid beneficiaries’ ability to receive family planning services from specific providers for reasons not related to their qualifications to provide such services," the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a letter. 

Perry, who has stressed his social conservative credentials in the Republican primary race, put out a statement accusing the administration of "playing politics." 

"We are committed to protecting life in Texas, and state law prohibits giving state dollars to abortion providers and affiliates -- a fact the Obama administration ignores," Perry said. "I strongly urge the administration to do the right thing and grant this waiver, so Texas women can access critical preventative health services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings, rather than making them pay the price for its pro-abortion agenda." 

At the same time, Perry and others in the Texas state government welcomed a separate decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services granting the state a waiver that will potentially allow it to receive billions in federal funding while expanding its so-called managed care program. 

Under the program, the state pays money to health plans to coordinate care for Medicaid patients. Typically, states that expand these programs would lose a certain type of federal funding. But the five-year waiver approved by the Obama administration will allow that funding stream to remain open. 

"This waiver will allow us to replace an archaic federal Medicaid funding system with one built around local solutions that rewards hospitals for patient care and innovation," Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs said in a statement. 

Perry said in his statement that the waiver will help local officials provide "more efficient and effective care, and implement locally-tailored health solutions." 

Still, he said, "Washington takes one step forward for state flexibility and two steps back" by rejecting the family-planning proposal.