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Planned Parenthood sues Texas

Here we go.

Right there with them

Right there with them

Planned Parenthood’s Texas affiliates on Monday filed a federal lawsuit to keep state health officials from booting them from the state’s Medicaid program.

Following Texas’ announcement in October that it would stop funding any care for poor women at Planned Parenthood clinics — a response to what state officials called “acts of misconduct” revealed in undercover anti-abortion videos — the women’s health organization is asking the courts for a reprieve.

Ten patients joined Planned Parenthood in the lawsuit, according to the organization. One of those is Kendra Hudson of Houston, who said a pap smear she got at a Planned Parenthood clinic allowed her to identify an abnormal growth and prevent it from developing into cancer.

“They were the provider that I trusted and felt comfortable with,” Hudson told reporters on Monday. By cutting off Medicaid funding to the women’s health organization, Planned Parenthood argues that thousands of other women could lose access to similar services they couldn’t get elsewhere.

The state’s move wouldn’t just end state funding for Planned Parenthood services like pregnancy tests, contraception and cancer screenings. It would also end the allocation of federal dollars to Planned Parenthood through Medicaid, the joint state-federal insurer of last resort that is administered by Texas. In 2015, Texas spent $310,000 of its own money on the women’s health organization while distributing $2.8 million in federal dollars.

[…]

The legal challenge in Texas is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed across the country over how Medicaid dollars are disbursed to Planned Parenthood clinics. Texas’ move comes weeks after a federal district court in Louisiana temporarily halted similar efforts there until the courts could better examine the issue. Other lawsuits are also making their way through the courts in Alabama and Arkansas.

Federal health officials notified the Texas Health and Human Services Commission late last month that kicking Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid could be a violation of U.S. law.

See here, here, and here for the background, and here for a copy of the lawsuit. The Observer adds a few details:

Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion groups have long claimed that other providers would be able to fill the void left by any Planned Parenthood ouster. Not so, said Dr. Hal Lawrence, CEO at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, during a press call announcing the lawsuit.

In fact, he said, it’d be “next to impossible” for non-Planned Parenthood providers to provide the same volume and quality of care. “It’s very difficult in many states to get Medicaid patients in to see other providers, schedules are already full,” Lawrence told reporters.

Planned Parenthood officials, who were given 30 days to respond to the Texas health commission’s Medicaid termination, said Monday that they are bypassing the commission’s appeals process in favor of filing their lawsuit. But attorneys did say that Planned Parenthood is complying with the inspector general’s requests for thousands of pages of billing and patient documents and subpoenas issued days after the termination letters.

One irony of all this is that one of the often-proffered reasons for not expanding Medicaid is that there aren’t enough doctors in the state who are willing to take new Medicaid patients. So of course kicking out a big Medicaid provider and forcing all its patients onto the mercies of the open market for doctors who will take them makes all kinds of sense.

I presume we all know how this is going to go: Planned Parenthood will win at the district court level, the ruling will be overturned on dubious grounds by a couple of the worse judges on the Fifth Circuit, and then we all get to sweat out another appeal to SCOTUS. Lather, rinse, repeat. In the meantime, this may speed up the timeline for the HHSC Inspector General to produce whatever report he’s going to produce on the claims that PP has been fraudulently billing Medicaid, the investigation of which was spurred by those latest ridiculous “sting” videos. Round and round she goes. Trail Blazers, the Statesman, the Chron, the AusChron, the Press, the Current, Daily Kos, and ThinkProgress have more.

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