The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it will pull $200 million from California’s federal Medicaid funding over the state’s requirement for abortions to be covered under health care plans.
The Department of Health and Human Services said California would lose part of its funding for the upcoming quarter because it continues to force state-managed health care plans to provide abortion coverage.
In doing so, California is filleting the Weldon Act, an anti-discrimination law that prevents insurers from punishment for not providing for abortions, according to HHS.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar said it would continue to deduct $200 million in Medicaid funding per quarter if California does not comply with the Weldon Act. The federal government has attempted to work with California, he said, but the state “refused to work with us to take corrective action, so we are now taking action to hold them to account.”
“Entities that receive HHS funds should think twice before flouting federal law and refusing to come into compliance,” Roger Severino, director of the HHS’s Office of Civil Rights, said in a statement.
“As a result of our actions today, California will be losing $200 million in federal funds per quarter, and UVMMC will have to answer for its conduct in court,” he continued. “Whatever one thinks of the legality of abortion, no one should be punished for declining to pay for or assist in the taking of human life.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom blasted the funding cut, calling it an attempt “to score cheap political points.”
California “will continue to stand up for reproductive health and push back against this extreme presidential overreach,” Newsom’s office said in a statement.
The HHS’s OCR reportedly issued a notice of violation earlier this year in January, but California did not adjust its policy.
“If OCR does not receive sufficient assurance that California will cease requiring all health care plans, as a class, to cover abortion, or that it is willing to negotiate in good faith towards that end, OCR will forward this Notice of Violation, and the evidence supporting OCR’s findings in this matter to the appropriate HHS funding components for further action under applicable grants and contracts regulations,” the notice said.
“Such referral may ultimately result in limitations on continued receipt of certain HHS funds in accordance with the Constitution and applicable Supreme Court case law,” it said.