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‘Unacceptable’: Rep. Diane Black hits HHS over ‘form-letter reply’ to Planned Parenthood inquiry

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Two Republican lawmakers are firing back at the Department of Health and Human Services after the agency sent them what one called a “form-letter reply” in response to an inquiry about Planned Parenthood funding.

TheBlaze previously reported that the Obama administration proposed a federal regulation that would prevent states from restricting the ability of “specific types of providers,” such as Planned Parenthood, to receive Title X funds “based on reasons unrelated to their ability to provide required services in an effective manner.”

In the wake of allegations that Planned Parenthood was trafficking in aborted fetal body parts, several states moved to defund the organization. Planned Parenthood has denied illegal conduct, and the allegations are still under congressional investigation.

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) expressed their concerns over the proposed rule in a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell that was co-signed by more than 100 members of Congress. They questioned how HHS defines “effective” when it comes to health care providers.

But Black said the lawmakers received only a generic form letter in response to their inquiry.

Black told TheBlaze in a statement, “Either Secretary Burwell and her staff know they cannot defend this blatantly political maneuver to prop up Planned Parenthood, or they don’t have enough respect for Congress to give the courtesy of a substantive reply.”

“Either is unacceptable,” she continued:

If the Obama Administration is going to act unilaterally to limit states’ ability to fund healthcare providers that best serve their citizens, then they should have come prepared to answer basic questions like those raised in our letter. The administration’s classless, form-letter reply shows stunning disregard for the concerns of every pro-life American.

Black added that she and Ernst are "following up" with Burwell "demanding a real answer to our inquiries before year’s end.”

A spokesperson for HHS did not immediately return TheBlaze’s request for comment.

In a statement after the rule was proposed, Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards praised the Obama administration for what she called an action that “will make a real difference in so many people’s lives.”

“The Obama administration is protecting access to health care for millions of people,” Richards said. “Women in nearly half the states in this country have faced political attacks on cancer screenings, birth control and other basic care. This rule makes it clear that politicians cannot ignore the law as they pursue their agenda to stop women from getting the care they need.”

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