Mar 11, 2021 - Health

Texas can remove Planned Parenthood from Medicaid program, judge rules

The outside of the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen in St. Louis, Missouri, May 30, 2019

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Texas can remove Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid program, a state district judge ruled Wednesday.

Why it matters: The move would stop thousands of people from accessing non-abortion services from the health provider.

Of note: Texas has long tried to remove from Medicaid Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions in the state.

  • The Hyde Amendment prevents the use of federal funds for abortion services except in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening circumstances.

Driving the news: Several Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates filed a lawsuit against the state last month to say they hadn't been issued with a "proper notice of termination" over Texas' officials' plans to cut its Medicaid funds on Feb. 4.

  • Travis County Civil District Court Judge Lora Livingston said in her ruling Wednesday that the groups cited "no authority for the proposition that a court injunction," which requires the Texas Office of the Inspector General to re-notice its termination.
  • "This decision is not made lightly," Livingston wrote. "In the light of the ongoing public health crisis, the risks of the individual losing health care and medical attention requires increased attention and scrutiny."
  • She added the "facts underlying the termination in this case" gave her "great pause," but the groups had selected the federal courts as the forum to contest the merits of their claims, which must be determined by the federal courts.

What they're saying: Planned Parenthood Texas Votes executive director Dyana Limon-Mercado accused Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in a statement of putting "his politics before the people he was elected to serve."

  • "The 8,000 Planned Parenthood patients who rely on Medicaid should be able to access care at the provider they know and trust," she said. "Without access to the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care Planned Parenthood provides, thousands of lives are now at even greater risk."
  • She noted to HuffPost that President Biden has said that states cannot refuse Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.
"We remain committed to fighting for Texans and ensuring the Biden administration makes good on their commitment to enforce the Medicaid law in all states."
  • The Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the governor's office did not immediately return Axios' request for comment.
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