- A Texas judge ruled Wednesday that the state may remove Planned Parenthood from the organization’s Medicaid program.
- The ruling is part of a contentious years-long fight between Texas and Planned Parenthood.
- The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced in 2015 that it intended to end its Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood affiliates after pro-life activist David Daleiden secretly recorded and published videos of Planned Parenthood employees allegedly discussing the sale of fetal body parts.
A Texas judge ruled Wednesday that the state may remove Planned Parenthood from the organization’s Medicaid program.
A number of the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates sued Texas in February for trying to ban Planned Parenthood from Medicaid programs, CNN reported. The Hyde Amendment prevents Medicaid funding from covering abortions except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.
Travis County Civil District Court Judge Lora Livingston wrote in a Wednesday ruling that the affiliates “cite no authority for the proposition that a court injunction requires the (Texas Office of the Inspector General) to re-notice its termination,” according to CNN.
“This decision is not made lightly,” Livingston wrote, CNN reported. “In the light of the ongoing public health crisis, the risks of the individual losing health care and medical attention requires increased attention and scrutiny. The facts underlying the termination in this case give me great pause. However, (the groups) selected the federal courts as the forum to contest the merits of their claims… (which) must be determined by the federal courts.”
Gov. Abbott continues to put his politics before the people he was elected to serve. We remain committed to fighting for Texans & supporting the Biden admin to enforce the law. Your income level & zip code shouldn’t determine whether you can access life-saving health care. https://t.co/P1ni4JatRy
— Alexis McGill Johnson (@alexismcgill) March 11, 2021
“As Texans grapple with the compounding crises of the pandemic and impacts of the deadly winter storm, thousands of people who rely on Medicaid will now face another obstacle built by Gov. Abbott: finding a new provider in a state which a provider shortage,” she said. “It didn’t have to be this way for Texans.”
The ruling is part of a contentious years-long fight between Texas and Planned Parenthood.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced in 2015 that it intended to end its Medicaid provider agreements with five different Planned Parenthood groups after pro-life activist David Daleiden posed as a fetal tissue procurer and secretly recorded and published videos of Planned Parenthood employees allegedly discussing the sale of fetal body parts.
Planned Parenthood said the videos were deceptively edited and sued both Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress in March 2016.
Texas officials said in 2017 that Planned Parenthood clinicians had expressed “willingness” to profit from the alleged fetal tissue deals shown in Daleiden’s videos, but a federal judge said later that year that there was no proof that Planned Parenthood had violated any ethical or medical standards. The judge ruled that Texas couldn’t withhold Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood, according to CNN.
The Fifth Circuit ruled in November that both Texas and Louisiana may exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from Medicaid funding, reversing the earlier appellate ruling that had blocked Texas from enforcing the state’s ban.
George W. Bush appointee Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen said in the 2020 ruling that the state had determined that Planned Parenthood was not qualified to receive Medicaid funding and that Planned Parenthood affiliates had not been able to contest this.
In December 2020, Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates asked the commission to remain in the program for “a six-month grace period to allow our patients to take care of urgent health needs during this crisis stage of this pandemic, and to allow us to help our patients attempt to find new providers willing to accept new patients insured through Medicaid.”
The state commission denied this request in January, CNN reported, and barred the Planned Parenthood affiliates from accepting new patients in the Medicaid program. The state commission did give the affiliates “a 30-day grace period” to move patients to new providers, however. That grace period ended in February and the affiliates filed an emergency lawsuit the day before it ended.
The affiliates said that the commission did not give “a proper notice of termination” from the Medicaid program, according to CNN, and a Texas county judge had temporarily blocked the affiliates from being booted from the Medicaid program in February.
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