Planned Parenthood is suing Texas' Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) arguing that the state's rule unconstitutionally banned its clinics from Medicaid's Women's Health Program (WHP). Planned Parenthood states that the rule excluding its clinics from the WHP will take away basic, preventive health care from tens of thousands of women.
"Worst of all my fears is that these women will forgo life-saving screenings, comprehensive exams, reliable birth control and other vital preventive healthcare services," Patricio Gonzales, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County in South Texas, told reporters yesterday.
Planned Parenthood notes that it is "the single largest provider of care within the Women’s Health Program and consistently delivers high-quality care to low-income women. In fact, over 40 percent of the women who receive services through WHP chose to rely on a Planned Parenthood health center."
This news comes after ongoing battles between Texas and Planned Parenthood. In February, the Texas state health department ruled to effectively ban all Planned Parenthood affiliates from the WHP after April 30. U.S. Health and Human Services responded by saying they would withdraw funding for Texas' WHP because the state could not restrict women's choice of provider for the program. Texas received 90% of its funds for the program from the federal government.
Texas responded by suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in an attempt to regain funding for its program. Catherine Frazier, a spokesperson for Gov. Perry, said yesterday, "Texas is under no obligation to provide taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood. Texas law has been very clear from day one of this program that abortion providers and their affiliates, like Planned Parenthood, are not qualified providers."
Planned Parenthood's lawsuit states that there will not be enough providers to meet the needs of the 130,00 women in the program if their clinics are forced to close.
"Many of (Planned Parenthood's) patients will simply go without preventive care altogether, resulting in them being at increased risk of undiagnosed cancer and sexually transmitted infections, unplanned pregnancies and abortion," the lawsuit said.
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Austin American-Statesman: Planned Parenthood sues Texas over women's health care
Planned Parenthood sued Texas in federal court Wednesday, arguing the state improperly banned its clinics from a Medicaid program that provides contraceptive and other health care to low-income women.
Challenging the ban as unconstitutional, a violation of state law and a misguided policy that jeopardizes the health of thousands of Texas women, Planned Parenthood is seeking an injunction allowing its clinics to remain part of the Women's Health Program. [...]
When the Legislature renewed the expiring health program last year, legislators added stronger limits restricting abortion providers and their affiliates. In February, the state health department encoded the restriction into a rule that will effectively ban all Planned Parenthood affiliates from the program after April 30.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services objected, however, saying Texas ran afoul of a federal law requiring that Medicaid recipients be able to choose any qualified provider willing to provide a service. The federal agency told Texas to begin phasing out the women's program, which receives about 90 percent of its funding from the federal government.
Texas then sued the federal health department, arguing that the decision to defund the Women's Health Program was illegal and violated the U.S. Constitution. Gov. Rick Perry also promised to find state money to continue the program without federal involvement.
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In the lawsuit filed today, the Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates argue that the rule, which was purposefully designed to make them ineligible to continue to participate in the Women’s Health Program, violates their constitutional rights because it imposes an unconstitutional condition on their participation in the program and thereby harms the tens of thousands of low-income women who rely on them for basic, preventive health care. The lawsuit also claims that the rule violates Texas state law because the Health and Human Services Commission overstepped its authority in adopting a rule that conflicts with the purpose of the laws that created the program. [...]In Texas, the Women’s Health Program is fundamental to improving the health of Texan women, serving as a vital source of health care coverage for women of all ages. Currently more than one-quarter of Texan women are uninsured, and women in Texas have the third-highest rate of cervical cancer in the U.S.
“Planned Parenthood is very important to me and my family. When my mom was my age and pregnant, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer at Planned Parenthood. They helped her with additional testing and a referral to where she could get treated,” said Rene Resendez, a 24-year-old uninsured student from West Texas who has relied on Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Health Program since 2007. “Without the Women’s Health Program and Planned Parenthood, I don’t know what I would do, or where I would go for the cancer screenings I know I need. Planned Parenthood has been a place my family can trust and I should be able to decide who provides my healthcare.”
Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas have been critical to the success of the Women’s Health Program. Planned Parenthood is the single largest provider of care within the Women’s Health Program and consistently delivers high-quality care to low-income women. In fact, over 40 percent of the women who receive services through WHP chose to rely on a Planned Parenthood health center.