Texas cuts off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood

In this Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 photo, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards is sworn in before testifying at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Hearing on "Planned Parenthood's Taxpayer Funding," in Washington. Responding to a furor over undercover videos, Planned Parenthood said Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 it will maintain programs at some of its clinics that make fetal tissue available for research, but will no longer accept any sort of payment to cover the costs of those programs. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — 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, such as cancer screenings and gynecology exams.

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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