Dec 21, 2016
Texas is moving to cut off Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding, despite a recent federal order that forbids states from doing just that.
State health officials on Tuesday delivered a final legal notice to defund the healthcare organization from the funds it receives through Title X, the federal program that gives financial support to groups providing family planning and preventive services to low-income patients.
The Texas Tribune, which obtained the statement, reports that funding is due to be shut off in 30 days.
Planned Parenthood said it would challenge the order in court rather than seek an administrative hearing with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to try to delay the cut-off deadline.
At stake is about $4 million a year in federal funds.
"Texas is a cautionary tale for the rest of the nation," Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. "With this action, the state is doubling down on reckless policies that have been absolutely devastating for women."
"If the nation goes the way of Texas, it will be nothing less than a national healthcare disaster," she said.
Federal officials warned that the move could violate federal law. Earlier this month, the White House issued a final rule that blocks states from cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers as long as the clinics also offer family planning and preventive services.
But Texas lawmakers began gearing up for this kind of move after President-elect Donald Trump appointed several anti-choice lawmakers to serve in his administration, including Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) as head of Health and Human Services (HHS). Vice President-elect Mike Pence was also known for approving some of the nation's strictest anti-choice laws when serving as governor of Indiana.
"With this action, the state is doubling down on reckless policies that have been absolutely devastating for women."
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) first launched the defunding campaign against Planned Parenthood in October 2015, when he sought to cut off Medicaid funds in response to a series of widely discredited "sting videos" filmed by an anti-choice activist group that purported to show the organization's leaders discussing the sale of fetal tissue.
State officials have been promising to deliver their final notice for more than a year. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood continued to provide services including cancer screening and birth control to roughly 11,000 low-income women throughout the state, the Tribune reports. But ongoing "politically motivated" attacks on the clinics--which included surprise visits from health officials to subpoena for patient information--have hurt women's access to healthcare throughout the state, according to a recent study by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) at the University of Texas at Austin.
In Tuesday's notice, Texas Health and Human Services Inspector General Stuart Bowen referenced the sting videos and said, "Your actions violate generally accepted medical standards, as reflected in state and federal law, and are Medicaid program violations that justify termination."
That's despite the fact that a grand jury in January cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and instead indicted the activists behind the videos.
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