As we know, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas in order to block the “Affiliate Rule” that Rick Perry is using to deny Medicaid funds to their clinics for the Women’s Health Program. In the opening arguments of the lawsuit, the state clearly shows what its priorities are.
State officials will have to end a key women’s health program if Planned Parenthood wins a legal battle to continue participating, Texas’ solicitor general told a federal judge Thursday.
“In the end, Planned Parenthood would rather shut down the Women’s Health Program in its entirety” than be excluded, said Solicitor General Jonathan F. Mitchell with the state attorney general’s office.
Planned Parenthood said there’s no need for the state to end the program if the group prevails.
Planned Parenthood is suing over the state’s decision to exclude clinics associated with abortion providers from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, even though the clinics themselves don’t provide abortions.
Planned Parenthood, which has been a large part of the program, said the provision violates its constitutional rights. The state disagrees.
The group’s lawyer, Helene T. Krasnoff, said its ouster from the program will damage Planned Parenthood financially and cause disruption for Women’s Health Program participants who rely on services through its clinics.
The program provides health screenings and birth control services to low-income women.
“There is no evidence they will be able to find another provider,” Krasnoff said. “All the evidence is to the contrary.”
Here again is the complaint filed by Planned Parenthood. If you skip down to the section where they ask for relief from the court, among other things they ask the court to “Issue preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, without bond, maintaining thestatus quo and restraining the enforcement, operation, and execution of the Affiliate Rule, andTex. Hum.Res. Code §32.024(c-1)if that statute requires that Rule”. That is, they ask that things be restored to how they were before the Affiliate Rule was put into place and barred them from participating in the WHP. It would be the choice of the state of Texas and Rick Perry at that point to either go back to how things were, which presumably would mean collecting those 9-to-1 federal matching funds again and saving millions of dollars, or to decide to end the Women’s Health Program entirely. The comments of Solicitor General Mitchell tell you what you need to know about that. This has always been about putting politics above all else, and if Judge Lee Yeakel grants the plaintiffs’ motion – he has said he’ll rule by April 30, which is to say tomorrow – we’ll know just how far Perry and his cronies are willing to take it. Burka has more, and a statement from Melaney A. Linton, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is beneath the fold.
Statement from Melaney A. Linton, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast
On Hearing Seeking Injunction to Block Unconstitutional Rule
Barring Planned Parenthood from Women’s Health Program
“We appreciate the quick action of United States District Court Judge Lee Yeakel to hear arguments today in our request for an injunction to block an unconstitutional rule blocking Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas from participating in the Women’s Health Program. Ensuring every Women’s Health Program patient continues to receive affordable family planning services and basic preventive health care, without interruption, is our top priority.
“Currently, more than 40 percent of women receiving basic, preventive care through WHP rely on one of Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers in Texas. We hope that a decision will be reached by April 30 so we can ensure the tens of thousands of Texan women who rely on our health centers for lifesaving cancer screenings, medical exams, and access to birth control through the Women’s Health Program can continue to receive uninterrupted health care from their provider of choice, Planned Parenthood.
“We are confident in the merits of our case and look forward to a decision so we can continue to focus on our patients and the basic and lifesaving health services they trust us to provide them.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is being represented by attorneys with the Texas firm Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Planned Parenthood’s complaint, available online here, argues it is unconstitutional to block Planned Parenthood from participating in the Women’s Health Program solely because Planned Parenthood engages in constitutionally protected health care through separate entities and using only its own private funds.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC) rule is designed specifically to make Planned Parenthood ineligible to continue to receive federal funds as a Women’s Health Program provider, even though Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers in Texas care for more than 40 percent of the women in the program.
In a state that leads in the nation in the percentage of people who are uninsured, where one in four women has no insurance, the Women’s Health Program provides life saving cancer screenings, health exams and family planning to low-income women who would otherwise not qualify for Medicaid. The program is credited with not only bringing in federal dollars, but saving the state tens of millions of dollars in avoidable medical costs.