AUSTIN, Texas — The abortion and contraceptive giant Planned Parenthood filed for an emergency restraining order on Friday in an effort to stop officials in Texas from cutting the organization from the state Medicaid program.
“Defendants’ unprecedented and indefensible actions show these terminations to be nothing more than a politically motivated witch hunt and the culmination of a concerted effort over more than a decade to come between the provider Plaintiffs and the thousands of low income patients they serve for a variety of family planning and sexual health needs,” the legal filing reads.
As previously reported, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) issued a final notice last Tuesday that Planned Parenthood would be defunded in 30 days. The organization had heretofore received $3.1 million in Medicaid reimbursement annually.
The Commission initially sent a letter to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in October 2015, providing the entity with a notice of termination.
“[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, but the Commission did not yet cancel the contract as originally planned. This month, it issued its final notice that the cancellation would be official on Jan. 21.
Planned Parenthood asserts that some women will lack “few or no adequate alternative providers” if the Medicaid funding is cut.
“If the provider Plaintiffs are forced to stop providing care in the Medicaid program, this situation will worsen. Women and men who are unable to obtain family planning care, or encounter delays in obtaining it, can face devastating consequences, including undetected cancers and diseases,” its filing for an emergency injunction this week read. “Delays in obtaining contraception will result in intended pregnancies, many of which may end in abortion.”
According to the CDC’s annual Abortion Surveillance Report, over 61,000 Texas residents obtained an abortion in 2013, the latest record on file.