You almost have to admire the sheer brazenness of it all. Almost.
In a fiscal switcheroo, Texas could free up state dollars to fund the embattled Women’s Health Program by seeking federal block grants for other programs, the state’s health commissioner wrote in a letter to House Democrats on Tuesday.
Texas is losing more than $30 million in annual federal funding for the Women’s Health Program over the state’s decision to force Planned Parenthood clinics out of the Medicaid program. Gov. Rick Perry has vowed that the state will find the money, despite a bleak budget, to continue to operate the contraception and cancer screening program without federal help.
In response to questions from state Democrats, Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs wrote on Tuesday that his agency is “exploring a number of funding options that would not create additional budget needs.” One of those options is to apply for newly available federal block grants for existing state programs, Suehs wrote, so the cost savings could be funneled into the Women’s Health Program. “State funds and federal block grants are interchangeable in many programs,” he wrote.
“The governor and Commissioner Suehs are going to rob state funds and federal block grants that were set aside for one program to pay for services that would have already been funded,” state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, said in a statement. “This problem was completely avoidable.”
I guess they decided they couldn’t just find $30 million in other state funds lying around, despite Perry’s empty promises. What should happen next is an edict from whoever doles out these block grants stating that they can only be used for their original, intended purpose. Let Greg Abbott file another lawsuit, he has nothing better to do with his time anyway. Trail Blazers has more.