Health officials in Texas have informed Planned Parenthood affiliates across the state that they plan to cancel their Medicaid contracts. They cited the videos of Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of human body parts that convinced them that the organization was “no longer capable of providing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner.”
The move would mean that the affiliates would no longer be reimbursed for serving low-income people who are eligible for Medicaid. But similar efforts in other states have been blocked by the federal courts because states are not permitted to pick and choose which organizations may receive reimbursement through the Medicaid program.
Planned Parenthood officials indicated Tuesday that they plan to take legal action to challenge the inspector general’s decision.
“It is completely outrageous that Texas officials are using thoroughly discredited, fraudulent videos to cut women off from preventive health care, including cancer screenings, HIV testing, and birth control,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “We will fight back against this outrageous, malicious, political attack in Texas with everything we’ve got, and we will protect women’s access to the health care they need and deserve.”
Also Tuesday, a federal court temporarily blocked a similar effort in Louisiana to cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood.
In the letter, Texas health officials laid out their case for terminating the contracts, citing undercover videos filmed by the antiabortion group the Center for Medical Progress. The videos, filmed over the course of 30 months, purport to show that Planned Parenthood illegally profits from a program that allows women to donate tissue leftover from abortions for research.
Planned Parenthood officials have said they did nothing wrong, and recently stopped accepting compensation for providing tissue for research, which they said only covered overhead costs. The organization has condemned the videos as fraudulently obtained and heavily edited.
Texas officials in their letter allege that the videos prove a number of violations, including that one Texas affiliate was willing to alter its abortion procedures to obtain better tissue samples, and that it allowed the undercover actors to improperly handle the tissue. The officials also alleged that Planned Parenthood improperly billed Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood is being disingenuous when they claim the videos have been “discredited” and are “fraudulent. If true, why are they now refusing to accept cash for body parts? The videos have not been discredited in the slightest, nor can they be “fraudulent” — unless you think they hired actors to play the roles of Planned Parenthood ghouls.
But just because Planned Parenthood is guilty as sin doesn’t mean they can be defunded at the state or federal level. Planned Parenthood is funded at the federal level through two programs — Medicaid and Title X, both programs serving low-income women. Congress could refuse to reimburse states for Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood, although the states could still do business with the organization and pay the federal share. Denying Title X funds would be more complicated but lawmakers have assured us it can be done.
As mentioned above, defunding at the state level is trickier. It seems strange that a state can’t determine where its 40% share of Medicaid funding should go, regardless of who is involved in supplying services. By this rationale, the KKK could set up a women’s health center and demand Medicaid reimbursement from the state for services rendered. I daresay the state governments would find a way to defund them quite quickly.
But that’s not how judges are seeing the issue so perhaps another way can be found around these rulings. In the meantime, although the issue appears dead in this Congress, it is likely that the defunding issue will be revisited annually, given the outrageous actions by Planned Parenthood.