Texas can move forward with ousting Planned Parenthood from its state Medicaid program, a state district judge ruled Wednesday, dealing a blow to thousands of low-income people who rely on the health care provider for dozens of essential services.
Planned Parenthood says the decision will impact thousands of patients who use its clinics for reproductive health needs, STI testing, pap smears, contraception, cancer screenings and other services during a global pandemic, and that it will lead to a shortage in providers for Texas’ most vulnerable people.
“The 8,000 Planned Parenthood patients who rely on Medicaid should be able to access care at the provider they know and trust. Without access to the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care Planned Parenthood provides, thousands of lives are now at even greater risk,” Dyana Limon-Mercado, the executive director for Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said in a statement.
State District Judge Lora Livingston sided with state officials on Wednesday against Planned Parenthood’s claims that the state did not give the nonprofit proper notice of its plans to cut its Medicaid funds on Feb. 4, forcing low-income Texans who receive health care through Medicaid to find new providers.
Livingston, who previously extended Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding while she took time to decide on the matter, wrote in her decision that because Planned Parenthood first pursued the issue in federal court (which sided with the state), a state court could not conclude whether Texas officials violated its duty to give notice.
Texas has fought to kick Planned Parenthood, which operates 40 clinics in the state, out of its Medicaid program since 2015. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), an abortion opponent, claimed last month that by doing so, “innocent lives will be saved.”
But that rhetoric falsely links Medicaid funding to abortions. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited Medicaid from funding any abortion services ― be it at Planned Parenthood or any other clinic.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Alexis McGill Johnson indicated Wednesday that the organization would continue to pursue the issue.
“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,” she said, referencing President Joe Biden’s stated belief that states cannot refuse Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.