Texas Officials Head to Federal Court to Cut Planned Parenthood from Medicaid

State & Regional

Texas officials were back in federal court on Tuesday — this time are hoping to kick Planned Parenthood out of the state’s Medicaid program.

Planned Parenthood and several Texas patients are suing the state’s plan to oust the organization from the Texas medicaid program completely. They argue that $3.1 million of state and federal funding is at stake, which they say could impact roughly 11,000 Texas patients.

“At the end of the day we have seen too often in Texas women losing access to healthcare, and it is really high time for this to stop being political,” Yvonne Gutierrez with Planned Parenthood Greater Texas said. “Women do not come to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement, they come for access to affordable quality healthcare, and we want to make sure that they continue to do that.”

According to Planned Parenthood’s website, that funding covers contraceptives, cancer screenings, breast exams and testing for sexually transmitted infections.

Melanie Linton, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast took the stand Tuesday and told the courtroom that the organization does not receive medicaid funding for abortion services.

Lawyers for Texas argued that a 2015 undercover video released by the anti-abortion group, Center for Medical Progress, shows a pattern of “gross violations of medical and ethical standards”.

In the video, workers at a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic are heard talking about reimbursement programs for aborted fetal tissue used in medical research.

But to some, the video seemed like a negotiation for prices instead of a reimbursement. 

“Planned Parenthood’s actions have been in question for a very long time,” Nicole Hudgens, a policy analyst with Texas Values, a pro-life group, said. “Women can get their healthcare in over 700 federally qualified healthcare centers that do everything that they need. So if we are going to talk about where the Medicaid funding needs to go, it needs to go to places like that rather than to an organization that is known for selling baby body parts.”

Gutierrez says there is a lot of pressure because they are working under a tight deadline. Planned Parenthood is scheduled to be dropped from the state’s medicaid program starting this Saturday.

“This is based on some videos that have been debunked. So I don’t see that there is really an issue here other than to further erode what is going on with Planned Parenthood,” State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, said. “We are talking about thousands of people losing access to care simply because of a political charge that is not even backed up by the facts.”

The Texas Attorney General’s office, who is representing the state throughout the case this week, released a statement on Tuesday.

“Texas has now demonstrated in briefing and at the hearing numerous ways in which Planned Parenthood breached its legal duties and does not deserve the position of high trust in providing Medicaid care to Texans,” Marc Rylander, Director of Communications for the Texas Attorney General’s Office said. “We look forward to continuing to defend Texas as it protects the safety of those in the Medicaid program.”

Testimony is expected to last for three days. Following the release of the undercover videos, 15 other states have tried to kick planned parenthood out of their medicaid programs.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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