Texas, after over a year of delays, has finally booted Planned Parenthood out of the state Medicaid program entirely.
This cut-off will affect thousands of low-income women, according to The Washington Post, and will take a cool $3.1 million in Medicaid funding away from women’s health and family planning services. Those millions will be jerked away in 30 days, according to The Texas Tribune.
Is Defunding Even Legal?
The problem is, the federal government previously brought up that defunding Planned Parenthood may be :at odds” with Federal law, The Texas Tribune reported back in October 2015.
“Longstanding Medicaid law prohibits states from restricting individuals with Medicaid coverage from receiving their care from any qualified provider,” a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services representative said in a statement. “Every year, millions of women benefit from critical preventive services, such as cancer screenings, that Planned Parenthood provides. State efforts to restrict women from using qualified providers puts these important health care services at risk.”
Texas officials had their own reasons to go against the Obama administration.
“The state has determined that you and your Planned Parenthood affiliates are no longer capable of performing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal and ethical manner,” Stuart Bowen Jr., head of the Office of Inspector General, wrote in a “notice of termination” in 2015.
Only time will tell whether the federal government will allow Texas to fully defund Planned Parenthood.
Unconfirmed Videos, Unproven Billing Issues Cited
The reasoning behind the final notice, Texas Health and Human Services Inspector General Stuart Bowen wrote, was that several unconfirmed “undercover” videos of Planned Parenthood, depicting officials discussing the use of fetal tissue for research, meant “Planned Parenthood violated state and federal law.”
Planned Parenthood has denied all claims that they donate fetal tissue for research, saying that its Texas centers don’t donate fetal tissue at all. The organization has criticized the credibility of these “undercover” videos, saying they seem heavily edited.
According to The Texas Tribune, Texas health officials mentioned that they had “reliable information indicating a pattern of illegal billing practices,” though the notice sent on December 20 had no mention of said billing practices.
In October of 2015, The Texas Tribune reported, Planned Parenthood was told it had 30 days to respond to a notice given by the state, and that if the organization did not respond, the state would issue a “final notice of termination.” Over a year later, no final notice went out. Officials have been silent on the subject of why the issue wasn’t pressed until now, the Tribune said.
During this time, Planned Parenthood continued to quietly provide well-woman services like birth control and cancer screenings to about 11,000 low-income women. It’s also worth noting that Planned Parenthood uses no federal money whatsoever to perform abortions, wrote The Texas Tribune.