Health Care for Thousands of Texans at Risk as State Cuts Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid Funding

Saturday, December 24, 2016
Gov. Greg Abbott (photo: Erich Schlegel, Getty Images)


By Julie Chang, New York Times


AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas officials are pulling Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood, potentially affecting health services for an estimated 11,000 low-income patients the organization serves.


State officials have made good on a promise made more than a year ago to oust Planned Parenthood after they said undercover videos of fetal tissue practices showed that the organization was unsafe and professionally incompetent. Gov. Greg Abbott praised the move at the time.


The same justification was stated in a letter Tuesday that gave the organization final notice of removal from the Medicaid program.


"The HHSC-IG's Chief Medical Officer reviewed the video and concluded that your willingness to engage in these practices violates generally accepted medical standards, and thus you are not qualified to provide medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal and ethical manner," Scott Bowen, the inspector general for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said in the letter.


Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, an affiliate that operates a Houston clinic, was the subject of an undercover video shot in April 2015. Abortion opponents said that the video showed Planned Parenthood officials violating laws against the sale of fetal body parts and against changing abortion procedures to procure intact fetal tissue.


In January, a Harris County grand jury cleared the organization of any wrongdoing and instead indicted two abortion opponents who were involved with shooting the undercover videos -- David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt -- for tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Daleiden was also indicted on a Class A misdemeanor that prohibits the purchase and sale of human organs.


"Already, tens of thousands of people are going without birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, and other care. The maternal mortality rate continues to rise. Yet Greg Abbott is hell-bent on chasing this ideological agenda, regardless of how many women it hurts," said Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes.


Planned Parenthood officials say they serve nearly 11,000 patients through Medicaid and will continue serving them as they fight the state's decision in federal court.


Last year, shortly after the state announced initial intentions to pull Medicaid funding, the organization filed a preemptive lawsuit in federal court to block the cuts.


To Learn More:

U.S. Abortion Rights Reaffirmed as Supreme Court Calls Texas Clinic Closings Illegal (by Nina Martin, ProPublica)

Texas Planned Parenthood Closings Led to Fewer Women Obtaining Contraceptives (by Paul J. Weber, Associated Press)

Texas Investigators Ordered Planned Parenthood to Surrender Private Patient and Employee Records (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Federal Court Approves Texas Law Requiring Abortion Providers to Have Hospital Privileges (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Family Planning Budget Cuts in Texas Lead to Increase in Poor Women having Babies (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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