Planned Parenthood sues Texas over exclusion from Medicaid funds

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, April 12, 2012 13:06 EDT
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The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state of Texas over the state’s exclusion of the nonprofit group’s clinics from a state women’s health program primarily funded by federal dollars.

PPFA told Austin American Statesman reporter Chuck Lindell that they’ve already closed 12 clinics across Texas since last year, after Texas Republicans slashed family planning funds by $74 million. Exclusion from Medicaid funding will see another $10-$13 million pulled from the group, which would trigger the closure of even more clinics serving lower-income communities.

Texas Republicans say they are within their lawful authority to deny funding to the nonprofit group because abortion providers are not considered to be qualified organizations. To those ends, the legislature last year passed a new rule that bans abortion providers from receiving taxpayer money.

PPFA, however, insists that only 3 percent of services performed across the whole country in 2010 had to do with abortion: the vast majority of their work, they claim, relates to breast and cervical cancer screenings, reproductive health, education and contraceptive support.

The Obama Administration said last month that Texas’s move was illegal, and began to cut off federal funds for the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program because of the state’s decision to exclude PPFA.

“Medicaid law is clear,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services director Cindy Mann said in a letter to state officials. “Patients, not state government officials, are able to choose the doctor and health care providers that are best for them and their family.”

The state’s Republicans have also passed into law a series of new regulations dealing with abortions in the state, including one highly controversial provision that requires women seeking abortions to undergo a medically unnecessary, invasive trans-vaginal sonogram first. That law is also being challenged in court.

A spokesperson for PPFA in Texas was not available for comment.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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