Health & Science

Planned Parenthood Files Lawsuit To Stop Removal From Texas Medicaid Program

The organization says the payments could stop as soon as December 8.

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Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas have sued state health officials for removing them from the Medicaid program. The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal district court in Austin.

The three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas – in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio – received about $4 million in Medicaid reimbursements last year.

Medicaid is a mixture of state and federal funds, but states administer the program. By federal law, Medicaid cannot pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment, so Planned Parenthood clinics use Medicaid to help cover other reproductive health services for low-income and pregnant women. Most of the services involve preventive care such as pap smears, contraception, breast exams and HIV tests.

The affiliates could stop receiving the money as soon as Dec. 8.

“We are not going to stand for it," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“By canceling Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract, these politicians are telling women where they can and cannot go for reproductive healthcare. And let’s be clear, that is illegal and it is a violation of federal law.”

Texas is the fifth state since this summer that has tried to remove Planned Parenthood from Medicaid.

Texas officials announced its plans in October. The state cited controversial undercover videos made by an anti-abortion group as evidence that Planned Parenthood violated medical standards, as well as two lawsuits against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast over billing practices, one of which has already been settled with no admission of wrongdoing.

Planned Parenthood treated 13,500 women on Medicaid last year. A patient representative, Kendra Hudson of Houston, says those patients can’t just switch doctors easily.

She tried herself, and quickly ran into trouble.

“It took weeks, or even months to get an appointment. They also didn’t do tests on site or fill prescriptions,” she said.

Hudson is loyal to Planned Parenthood. She says doctors there removed pre-cancerous cells found during a pap smear.

“The state shouldn’t block women from picking their doctor, especially when it simply has to do with politics," Hudson said.

A spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said he could not comment on pending litigation.

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