Can Texas legally cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood?

Texas announced on Monday that it would be terminating Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, saying that the reproductive health nonprofit is in violation of the federal program's rules. 

John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star via AP/File
People participate in a 'Pink Out Kansas City' rally, organized by MoveOn, to show support for Planned Parenthood at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., last month.

Texas announced Monday that it was cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood clinics following undercover videos of officials discussing fetal tissue, potentially triggering a legal fight like the one unfolding in neighboring Louisiana.

Planned Parenthood affiliates statewide were told in a letter that their enrollment in the joint state-federal Medicaid program was in the process of being terminated because they were potentially "liable, directly or by affiliation, for a series of serious Medicaid program violations." The five-page letter was sent by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Office of Inspector General.

The move comes after undercover videos released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, which alleges the videos show that Planned Parenthood illegally sold fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood denies the allegation and said the videos were misleading.

A federal judge ordered Louisiana on Monday to continue providing Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood clinics for 14 more days. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, while running for president, ordered his state to block funding in the wake of the same videos, but Planned Parenthood sued and challenged the state ending of funding for non-abortion services.

Planned Parenthood in Texas could not be reached for immediate comment on Monday. But Texas' letter to its affiliates attempted to address the issue of access to other services.

"Your termination and that of all your affiliates will not affect access to care in this state because there are thousands of alternate providers in Texas, including federally qualified health centers, Medicaid-certified rural health clinics, and other health care providers across the state that participate in the Texas Women's Health Program and Medicaid," the letter said.

The letter also noted that since 2013, the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature has moved to deny as much funding to Planned Parenthood as possible. That included shutting the group out of the Texas Women's Health Program, which provides care to poor Texas residents.

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