Alabama Clinic Disputes Medicaid Termination

     MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CN) – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley cut Planned Parenthood provider agreements in his state for no good reason, the clinic claims in court.
     Planned Parenthood Southeast Inc. sued Gov. Bentley and Stephanie McGee, acting commissioner of the Alabama Medicaid Agency, for terminating its Medicaid agreements without warning. The lawsuit was filed Friday in Middle Alabama district court.
     PPSE, which provides family planning and preventive services in Mobile and Birmingham, will no longer be able to accept patients using Medicaid, according to the complaint.
     “On August 6, 2015, without warning and having expressed no prior concerns about the participation of PPSE in providing services to Alabama women through the Medicaid program, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley notified PPSE by letter that it was terminating PP SE’s Medicaid provider agreement, effective 15 days after receipt of the letter,” the lawsuit states.
     While Planned Parenthood said that the governor’s letter gave no reason for termination, that same day he “released a statement that referred to heavily edited and misleading videos that opponents of Planned Parenthood have recently released,” according to the complaint.
     The Alabama lawsuit comes just days after a similar challenge was filed in Louisiana by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. That lawsuit also references allegedly edited videos.
     “Those tapes relate to the practice of an extremely small number of Planned Parenthood affiliates that allow their patients to donate fetal tissue following an abortion in order to advance medical research,” the PPSE complaint states. “While all Planned Parenthood affiliates comply with all federal and state laws on the disposal of fetal tissue, PPSE does not participate in any fetal tissue donation programs and does not appear in any of the videos.”
     PPSE says Alabama Medicaid does not pay for abortions, except in rare circumstances.
     Gov. Bentley tweeted Aug. 6, “The deplorable practices at Planned Parenthood have been exposed to Americans. I’ve terminated any association with the organization in AL.”
     Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, told Courthouse News that the Yellowhammer State’s actions are unjustified.
     “The federal government and several courts have made clear that a state cannot kick Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program simply because Planned Parenthood provides abortion,” Watson said. “This is yet another attempt by the State of Alabama to impermissibly target abortion providers for unfair treatment.”
     The ACLU of Alabama represents PPSE in its lawsuit.
     PPSE, which runs clinics in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, claims Gov. Bentley and McGee’s decision to cut its Medicaid provider agreement violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The clinic seeks a court order stopping them from enforcing the termination.
     “Unless enjoined, the termination of PPSE’s Medicaid provider agreements will disqualify PPSE from providing critical health services to Alabama women who depend on PPSE for that care,” the complaint states.
     The governor’s office and the Alabama Medicaid Agency could not be reached for comment.

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