AUSTIN — Officials in Texas have formally cut the abortion and contraceptive giant Planned Parenthood from the state’s Mediciad program in the midst of a year-old lawsuit challenging plans to defund the organization.
According to the Texas Tribune, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) issued a final notice on Tuesday that Planned Parenthood would be defunded in 30 days. The organization had heretofore received $3.1 million in Medicaid reimbursement annually.
Planned Parenthood, which sued last year over the matter, says that it plans to file for a restraining order.
“Planned Parenthood continues to serve Medicaid patients and will seek a preliminary injunction in an ongoing lawsuit filed in November 2015, following the state’s original threats to take action against Planned Parenthood’s patients,” Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, told the outlet.
“[T]here is reliable information indicating a pattern of illegal billing practices by Planned Parenthood affiliates, including you, across the state,” the letter read. “Our prima facie case of fraud is supported by related cases involving fraudulent practices identified by whistleblowers from inside the Texas Planned Parenthood network.”
It pointed to two federal lawsuits that had been settled for millions after whistleblowers came forward about false Medicaid claims that had been filed.
Without specifically mentioning the Center for Medical Progress, the Commission also referenced undercover video footage showing representatives from a Texas Planned Parenthood facility discussing its willingness to alter abortion procedures to remove deceased children whole.
“The videos indicate that you follow a policy of agreeing to procure fetal tissue even if it means altering the timing or method of an abortion. These practices violate accepted medical standards, as reflected in federal law, and are Medicaid program violations that justify termination,” it said.
As previously reported, a video released in August 2015 by the Center for Medical Progress captured Melissa Farrell, director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, discussing with undercover investigators the “diversification of the revenue stream” over dinner, along with a visit to the organization’s pathology lab, where workers sorted through the remains of aborted babies.
“If we alter our process and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget, that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this,” she explained. “I mean, it’s all just a matter of line items.”
Planned Parenthood sued the Texas HHSC last November in an effort to retain its participation in the Medicaid program, asserting that the termination was illegal.
“By cancelling Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract, these politicians are telling women where they can and cannot go for reproductive healthcare,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. told reporters. Richards is the daughter of Ann Richards, who was the Democratic governor of Texas from 1991 to 1995.
Texas did not cancel the organization’s contract last December as initially planned.
According to the CDC’s annual Abortion Surveillance Report, over 61,000 Texas residents obtained an abortion in 2013, the latest record on file.