AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – Planned Parenthood claims Texas’ move to cut its Medicaid funding is a “politically motivated witch hunt” that came after 14 months of ongoing state investigations yet to prove the health-care provider sells aborted-fetal tissue.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission said in a Dec. 20 termination notice it plans to cut Planned Parenthood’s $4 million in annual Medicaid funding.
If a federal court does not intervene, Planned Parenthood will be forced on Jan. 21 to turn away the nearly 11,000 Medicaid patients who receive care at its 30 Texas clinics, the nonprofit said in an injunction motion filed late Friday.
Texas’ Republican leaders are proud of their crusade to end abortions in the state, which suffered a defeat last year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, that a 2013 law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, and clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, placed an undue burden on women.
Texas took a new tack shortly after that setback, unveiling new rules that hospitals and clinics must bury or cremate fetal tissue after an abortion, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus.
With the fetal-burial rules set to take effect Dec. 19, the Center for Reproductive Rights sued and U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued an injunction delaying their implementation until Jan. 6.
Sparks is also presiding over Planned Parenthood’s court battle with Texas over the Medicaid funding.
Planned Parenthood says in court filings it provides annual checkups, cancer screenings, birth control and sexual-transmitted disease testing with a focus on poor patients, many of whom have little time between child care and work obligations to visit a clinic.
The clinic says the funding cut could make it hard for its Medicaid patients to find alternative care.
“Not only will patients lose their known and preferred provider, many will also face difficulties finding other providers who will see them, especially if they have a condition requiring urgent care. In part because of low reimbursement rates and onerous reimbursement policies, Texas suffers from a shortage of willing Medicaid providers,” according to the motion for a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction.
Despite Planned Parenthood’s myriad services, Texas has maintained its laser focus on the fact that some of its clinics provide abortion or refer women to other abortion providers, though Medicaid funds in Texas are rarely used for abortions, the nonprofit says in its motion.
“Medicaid does not pay for abortions for Texas women except if their lives are in danger or if they are victims of rape or incest,” the motion states. Medicaid is jointly funded by federal and state governments.
In 2013, the federal government cut $30 million in annual federal family-planning funds it was paying Texas, after the state excluded Planned Parenthood affiliates from participating in its Women’s Health Care Program, which was 90 percent federally funded. Texas replaced it with its own health-care program for poor women in July 2016.
Planned Parenthood’s motion calls Texas “ground zero” in a national trend of Republican-controlled states trying to defund Planned Parenthood affiliates.