Texas defunds Medicaid for Planned Parenthood

In a move that could affect thousands of low-income women, state health officials on Tuesday delivered a final legal notice to defund Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program through which it provides family planning and women’s health services to the poor.

Planned Parenthood had previously received $3.1 million in Medicaid funding, but those dollars will be nixed in 30 days, according to the notice obtained by The Texas Tribune. The affected services include birth control and cancer screenings and are separate from the organization’s abortion services, which receive no public funds.

The cut-off could be delayed if the organization requests an administrative hearing with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in the next 15 days, but Planned Parenthood officials say they will instead turn to the courts to block the cuts. Planned Parenthood pre-emptively filed a lawsuit a year ago seeking to block Texas’ efforts, which has sat idle until now.

The battle began in October 2015, when Gov. Greg Abbott and state health officials first moved to cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, citing controversial undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials — and unspecified allegations of billing fraud — as proof of “acts of misconducts” by the organization.

But more than a year went by before the state issued its “final notice of termination.” In the notice, Texas Health and Human Services Inspector General Stuart Bowen said the undercover videos — which depicted Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of fetal tissue for research — showed “that Planned Parenthood violated state and federal law.”

Federal officials have already warned Texas that pushing Planned Parenthood out of the state’s Medicaid program could put the state at odds with federal law. And federal courts in other states have ruled that Planned Parenthood cannot be legally kicked out of Medicaid. Read more at texastribune.org.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.