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Trump cuts health care funding to California in the middle of the pandemic

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the move is an attempt ‘to score cheap political points.’

By Emily Singer - December 17, 2020
Donald Trump

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it’s cutting $200 million in health care funding to California in response to the state’s requirement that insurance providers cover abortion services, the Associated Press reported.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said California is violating the Weldon Amendment, a federal law that allows insurance providers to refuse to cover abortion services if they want to. Because of that, Azar said in a statement, the Trump administration is “now taking action to hold them to account.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom told the AP that the move is an attempt “to score cheap political points” and promised that his state would “continue to stand up for reproductive health and push back against this extreme presidential overreach.”

The slashing of funding to the state comes as the numbers of cases of the coronavirus and deaths from COVID-19 soar in California and throughout the country.

The same day Azar made the announcement, California added a record 61,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day.

Another 398 people died of the virus in California on Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 21,881 since the pandemic began.

While President-elect Joe Biden can reverse the Trump administration’s move after he’s inaugurated at noon on Jan. 20, California is facing a shortfall that will leave it unable to pay Medicaid expenses for nearly the entire month of January, as the cut will begin on Jan. 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

The move comes as the Trump administration rolls out a campaign it calls “Life is Winning” in celebration of its anti-abortion efforts.

The Trump administration is proud that the United States is a sponsor country of the “Geneva Consensus,” a so-called pact that it says works to promoting “women’s health and strengthening the family” by opposing abortion rights. The five other sponsor countries are Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, and Uganda, which have records of human rights abuses and anti-LGBTQ policies.

Trump has also tried to force women who need drugs for medication abortions to go in person to clinics to obtain them, despite the risks of doing so in the middle of the pandemic. However, a federal judge in Maryland has blocked the administration from enforcing that rule.

The administration is pushing its “Life is Winning” message as the United States has now surpassed more than 307,000 coronavirus deaths — the most of any country on earth.

It also comes in a year in which the Trump administration has carried out more executions than every single state combined.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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