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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, February 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Louisiana Clinic Shielded From Medicaid Cuts

(CN) - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he'll keep fighting to defund Planned Parenthood after a federal judge granted the clinic a temporary restraining order over the weekend.

U.S. District Judge John deGravelles granted the order Sunday, which became effective at 11:59 p.m. It prevents the state from cutting Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, or PPGC.

PPGC sued Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert in Federal Court in August, challenging the state's termination of Medicaid provider agreements.

On Aug. 3, without any prior warning or concerns about PPGC's participation in the Medicaid program, Kliebert notified the provider that her department was terminating its Medicaid provider agreements, effective 30 days from the date of the notice, according to the clinic's lawsuit.

PPGC says it has never provided an abortion in the state.

"Louisiana Medicaid does not pay for abortions except in extremely narrow circumstances, and [Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast] has not to date provided abortions in Louisiana at all," the lawsuit states.

In Sunday's restraining order, deGravelles ruled that Kliebert's office cannot suspend Medicaid payments to PPGC for services provided to Medicaid beneficiaries. The order lasts for 14 days.

"It appears likely that plaintiffs will be able to prove that the attempted terminations against it are motivated and driven, at least in large part, by reasons unrelated to its competence and unique to it," the judge wrote in the 59-page order.

The judge said that one of PPGC's two clinics in particular would be at risk of closing without the restraining order.

"The uncontroverted evidence in the record is that [Baton Rouge Health Center] relies to a significant degree on Medicaid reimbursements," deGravelles wrote. "The court finds that if the agreements are terminated, this facility would suffer significant financial loss and might have no choice but to close. In order to insure that meaningful relief is given to the Jane Doe plaintiffs and that these individual plaintiffs have their free choice of provider...the court's temporary restraining order will extend to all [Department of Health and Hospitals]-PPGC provider agreements applicable to all Medicaid-enrolled patients."

Jindal spokesman Mike Reed said in a statement provided to The Times-Picayune that the governor's administration plans to "appeal this decision and continue to fight to ensure Planned Parenthood no longer receives taxpayer funding." The restraining order itself can't be appealed, but a possible forthcoming injunction can, according to the newspaper.

State officials and Planned Parenthood representatives have a telephone conference with deGravelles scheduled for Monday afternoon, the restraining order says.

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