Texas Planned Parenthood asks judge to
block Medicaid funding cut
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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 across Texas.
It is seeking an injunction from Judge Sam Sparks in federal court in
Austin to stop the cutoff, part of a protracted legal and political
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 Trump.
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
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.
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Planned Parenthood South Austin Health Center is seen in Austin,
Texas, U.S. on June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Ilana Panich-Linsman/File
None of that money went to abortions, plaintiffs in the lawsuit
against Texas and the Medicaid defunding plan have said.
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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