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Hutchison Urges Perry to Reconsider Health Program

Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune
U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison talks with supporters at the Bonnie Ruth's Cafe in suburban Frisco, TX during a campaign stop for the Republican nomination for Texas governor.

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison broke ranks from her party on Thursday to urge Gov. Rick Perry — her opponent in the 2010 Texas governor's race — to re-negotiate with the Obama administration to keep federal funding for the Medicaid Women's Health Program.

In an appearance on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, Hutchison said Texas "can't keep turning back federal funds that every state gets and then try to find money in our budget which is already being cut in key areas like education."

"I do think that the governor needs to sit down with the federal government and work it out so that we can have our share, our fair share," she added.

Todd asked the retiring senator to comment on whether Planned Parenthood should be excluded from the Women's Health Program. 

Hutchison appeared to hesitate before responding, "Well, you know, I can't say... I think Planned Parenthood does mammograms. They do so much, so much of the health care — the preventive health care, and if they're doing that, then we need to provide those services. Absolutely."

(Earlier this year, when Susan B. Comen for the Cure briefly halted grant funding for Planned Parenthood, abortion opponents pointed out that Planned Parenthood does not own mammogram machines in Texas. Planned Parenthood officials say it's no secret that they offer breast screenings, but refer women elsewhere for mammograms.)

Hutchison's reaction contrasts with state Republican leaders, who have been sending press releases to the media to reiterate their support for Perry's decision to forgo federal funding for the Women's Health Program if the state is not allowed to exclude abortion providers and their affiliates, like Planned Parenthood.

Watch the interview below.

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Thanh Tan is a multimedia reporter/producer for The Texas Tribune. She previously worked at Idaho Public Television, a PBS station that serves a statewide audience. While there, she was an Emmy award-winning producer/reporter/host for the longest-running legislative public affairs program in the West, Idaho Reports, moderator of The Idaho Debates, and a writer/producer for the flagship series Outdoor Idaho. Prior to joining IdahoPTV, she was a general assignment reporter at the ABC affiliate in Portland, OR and a political reporter for KBCI-TV in Boise, ID. Her work has also appeared on the PBS NewsHour and This American Life. She graduated with honors from the University of Southern California with degrees in International Relations and Broadcast Journalism.
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