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Texas moves to cut Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood

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Texas plans to block about $3 million in Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood operations in the state, according to a legal document obtained on Wednesday, a move the reproductive healthcare group said could affect nearly 11,000 low-income people.

Planned Parenthood said it would seek court help to block the funding halt, which would cut cancer screenings, birth control, HIV testing and other programs.

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Planned Parenthood gets about $500 million annually in federal funds, largely in reimbursements through Medicaid, which provides health coverage to millions of low-income Americans.

Texas and several other Republican-controlled states have tried to cut the organization’s funding after an anti-abortion group released videos last year that it said showed officials from Planned Parenthood negotiating prices for fetal tissues from abortions it performs.

Texas sent a final termination notice to Planned Parenthood in the state on Tuesday to alert it of the funding cut, the document showed, saying the basis of the termination was the videos.

Planned Parenthood has denied wrongdoing, saying the videos were heavily edited and that it does not profit from fetal tissue donation. It has challenged similar defunding efforts in other states, calling them politically motivated.

Republican President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, and at least 14 states have tried to pass legislation or taken administration action to prevent the organization from receiving federal Title X funding.

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“Texas is a cautionary tale for the rest of the nation,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement. “With this action, the state is doubling down on reckless policies that have been absolutely devastating for women.”

The Texas governor’s office was not immediately available for comment. The state investigated Planned Parenthood over the videos. A grand jury in January cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing and indicted the anti-abortion activists who made the videos for tampering with government records.

About a year ago, the Texas health department cut funding to a Houston Planned Parenthood affiliate for a nearly three-decade-old HIV prevention program. The contract was federally funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but managed by the state.

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(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)


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Some Trump supporters ‘delight’ in defying pandemic protocols to stick it to liberals: report

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A new report from The Atlantic's McKay Coppins reveals that some conservative Trump supporters are intentionally defying recommended social distancing protocols as a way to stick it to their political foes.

In his article, Coppins interviews Georgia resident Geoff Frost, who says that older conservatives who play at his local country club have made a habit of blowing off recommendations against shaking hands and sharing golf carts during the worst public health crisis the United States has faced in decades.

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Alternet 2020

Pandemic modelers warn that Trump’s lies may increase the spread of COVID-19

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Epidemiologists model how an infectious disease outbreak may spread within and between communities. The computer models are based on research into past epidemics, the virulence of a pathogen,the  severity of the illness it causes and various other factors. But these scientists assume that leaders will offer a coherent response to the crisis, and that people will modify their behavior appropriately. Trump, the conservative press and the Republican base are upending those assumptions.

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Doctors and nurses suffer near-impossible conditions in a defunded health system

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The doctor who said this continues to show up daily, caring for patients in need. Her health — and that of millions of other doctors, nurses, their families and the patients they care for — is put at risk when our leaders de-fund the health system that protects us all. She and other front line health workers, covering extra shifts and working overtime in this historic pandemic, tap into reserves of strength and resilience in hopes that the long overdue staff, equipment, space and systems arrive before the cases of COVID-19 surge out of control.

This article was originally published at Salon

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