Tags: US | Planned Parenthood | Texas

Planned Parenthood Asks Judge to Halt Texas Medicaid Cuts

Saturday, 31 Dec 2016 03:27 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Planned Parenthood has asked a federal judge to stop Texas from cutting it from the state's Medicaid program, which the nation's largest abortion provider says would reduce health services for nearly 11,000 low-income women.

The request to U.S. District Sam Sparks was filed late Friday in Austin and is part of an ongoing lawsuit filed last year. Texas is one of several Republican-controlled states that have sought to deny Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood following the release of secretly recorded and heavily edited videos by an anti-abortion group last year.

Investigations by 13 states into those videos have concluded without criminal charges, and Planned Parenthood officials have denied any wrongdoing. A Houston grand jury indicted two activists behind the videos over how they covertly gained access inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, but a judge later dismissed the charges.

Federal judges have stopped Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas and Mississippi from similarly excluding Planned Parenthood from Medicaid reimbursements in wake of the videos. Texas is set to cut off Planned Parenthood as early as Jan. 21 unless Sparks grants an injunction.

Sparks had previously set a hearing in the case for Jan. 17.

"Courts have unanimously prevented these terminations and agreed that preventing Medicaid enrollees from obtaining care from the qualified provider of their choice violates federal law," attorneys for Planned Parenthood wrote in their request for an injunction.

Aides to Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Saturday.

Paxton's office has said it is still investigating the videos — more than 18 months after launching an inquiry. But Texas health officials in the meantime pointed to the videos in sending a letter earlier this month to Planned Parenthood, which the state accuses of making misleading statements.

President-elect Donald Trump could also move to strip Planned Parenthood of nearly $400 million in Medicaid funds after taking office. Republicans moved through Congress last year legislation to cut taxpayer funds to the 100-year-old organization, but President Barack Obama vetoed it.

Trump sent mixed signals during his campaign about Planned Parenthood but has endorsed calls to defund the group.

This story has been corrected to reflect that Planned Parenthood's court filing is part of an ongoing lawsuit against Texas, not a new lawsuit.

Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pauljweber

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
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Saturday, 31 Dec 2016 03:27 PM
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