The Biden Administration is Targeting Pregnancy Care Centers!
Ohio Right to Life recently sent a letter of opposition to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra opposing the Biden Administration’s proposed rule that targets Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funding for pregnancy help centers. The rule would effectively disqualify Ohio’s centers from receiving TANF funds awarded by the state — currently, the Ohio awards approximately $15 million to these groups.
Read our letter of opposition!
December 1, 2023
The Honorable Xavier Becerra
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20201
Submitted via http://www.regulations.gov/
RE: RIN 0970-AC97, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Strengthening Temporary Assistance for Needy Families as a Safety Net and Work Program, 88 Fed. Reg. 67697 (October 2, 2023)
We are writing today in strong opposition to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (the “Department”) proposed rule, Strengthening Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as a Safety Net and Work Program, 88 Fed. Reg. 676979 (October 2, 2023) (the “Proposed Rule”). The Department should withdraw the Proposed Rule.
Ohio has traditionally enjoyed administrative flexibility to manage its TANF program in the manner that best serves our resident population. For years, Ohio lawmakers have made the lawful policy decision to afford pregnancy help centers the opportunity to apply for and receive TANF funds for the benefit of pregnant women and low-income families with children who are directly served by the centers. At least four other states (PA, IN, MO, and LA), have joined Ohio in enabling the centers to receive TANF funds. The positive impact these centers have had on building strong and healthy families in alignment with TANF’s purposes is well-documented. For these reasons, we have several concerns with the Proposed Rule:
- The Proposed Rule would end the administrative flexibility historically enjoyed by Ohio lawmakers to use TANF funds in the manner that best serves Ohioans. Ohio has a record of responsibly and lawfully administering TANF funds, but the Proposed Rule would limit Ohio’s ability to establish the criteria applicants must satisfy to receive funding, like the type of assistance, range of services, and beneficiary rules – the very things that HHS cites as instrumental to TANF. This is a strong-arm tactic meant to dissuade states from partnering with pregnancy help centers because the Proposed Rule would subject centers to costly audits and constant legal defense. The Proposed Rule is designed to have a chilling effect on state partnership with pregnancy help centers.
- The Proposed Rule places an unnecessary and indefensible burden on pregnancy help centers and other TANF participants, effectively putting funding recipients and the State of Ohio on notice that they must prepare to have their work scrutinized by federal bureaucrats. Many centers are small non-profits that cannot afford to hire expensive attorneys and accountants to defend their continued compliance. Additionally, the cost of constantly defending compliance would foreseeably require these centers to divert their focus and resources away from their mission of assisting pregnant women and families.
- The Proposed Rule is discriminatory because it lacks any reasonable justification and singles out pregnancy help centers that express a pro-life viewpoint. The evidence is clear that pregnancy help centers perform vital and lifesaving work for the benefit of pregnant women and low-income families with children. These centers express traditional pro-life views and present life-affirming assistance to pregnant women. The Proposed Rule targets these centers for increased scrutiny and attempts to limit the important services they provide to women and families by making it harder for them to receive TANF funding.
- The Proposed Rule appears to be a politically motivated challenge to Ohio’s program. Ohio has more than 182 pregnancy help organizations – 52 of which are pregnancy resource centers, 89 medical centers, 12 maternity homes, and 29 other supportive services. Not all pregnancy help centers qualify or choose to apply for TANF dollars. This is just a small investment that Governor DeWine and the Ohio Legislature have made to champion women, children, and families in our most recent budget, which includes: $16 million to childcare, $32 million for early childhood education, $26M in maternal and infant care, $60 million in foster care, and $100+ million in Help Me Grow – nearly a 20% increase.
Ohio’s pregnancy help centers that receive TANF funds perform vital and lifesaving work for pregnant women and low-income families with children, and they do so in alignment with TANF’s purposes and Ohio law. Accordingly, Ohio should be permitted to continue its partnership with these centers through TANF without interference from the federal government.
We urge you to withdraw the Proposed Rule.
Ohio Right to Life