Planned Parenthood asks judge to block Medicaid funding
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[January 18, 2017]
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The leaders of
Texas Planned Parenthood asked a federal judge on Tuesday to block the
state's bid to halt Medicaid funding for the healthcare group, which has
long been targeted by Republicans for providing abortions.
Planned Parenthood has said the threatened funding cut, by
terminating Planned Parenthood's enrollment in the state-funded
healthcare system for the poor, could affect nearly 11,000 patients
It is seeking an injunction from Judge Sam Sparks in federal court
in Austin to stop the cutoff, part of a protracted legal and
Texas and several other Republican-controlled states have pushed to
cut the organization's funding since an anti-abortion group released
videos it said showed Planned Parenthood officials negotiating
prices for fetal tissue collected from abortions.
The defunding efforts could gain traction now that Republicans, who
already control the U.S. House and Senate, are expanding their
powers with this week's inauguration of President-elect Donald
Ken Lambrecht, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Greater
Texas and a plaintiff, testified his group does not participate in
fetal tissue donation for medical research.
Planned Parenthood has denied wrongdoing nationally, saying the
videos were heavily edited and misleading.
The Medicaid cut was "unconscionable," Lambrecht testified, adding
it would make it more difficult for some of the state's poorest
people to access services his affiliate provides, such as cancer
screenings and HIV testing.
Texas has said other medical facilities could provide similar
services as Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood affiliates across Texas received about $4.2
million in Medicaid funding during the 2015 fiscal year, the state's
Health and Human Services Commission said.
None of that money went to abortions, plaintiffs in the lawsuit
against Texas and the Medicaid defunding plan have said.
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Sparks said he does not see the videos as a central to the hearing,
which opened Tuesday and is scheduled to run through Thursday. He
called on the state to present evidence to back up its allegations
that Planned Parenthood violated the law.
Texas investigated Planned Parenthood over the videos and a grand
jury last January cleared it of any wrongdoing. The grand jury
indicted two people who made the videos for document fraud but the
charges were later dismissed.
The state took no further criminal action against Planned Parenthood
after that but has repeated its accusations that the abortion
provider may have violated state law.
Planned Parenthood gets about $500 million annually in federal funds
across the United States, largely in reimbursements through
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Tom Brown and Lisa
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