Texas illegally cuts Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid reimbursements

Yesterday, Buzzfeed reported that Texas is citing the discredited sting videos released by the Center for Medical Progress as a reason to deny Planned Parenthood the Medicaid reimbursements that they are legally entitled to:

In a letter to Planned Parenthood providers on the Gulf Coast, Stuart Bowen, the inspector general for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, notified the clinics of his intention to terminate their enrollment in the state’s Medicaid program because Texas had determined they were “no longer capable of performing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner.”

Bear in mind that Texas did not conduct an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices in the state. Every state that actually has done so has found no evidence of wrongdoing. That includes Jason Chaffetz’s federal-level witch hunt, which didn’t turn up any witches.

This would all but certainly be true in Texas as well, as only five of the state’s 39 Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortive services, and none participate in fetal tissue research, the subject of the recent scrutiny (only Planned Parenthood clinics in Washington, California and Oregon do so). Despite being under no obligation to do so, Planned Parenthood also recently announced that it would forego receiving reimbursements for the costs associated with fetal tissue research, the subject of the sting videos that sparked this whole controversy.

This being the case, Texas’s move is a political hit for the sake of a political hit, bearing positively no relation to the issues raised during the recent controversy.

Planned Parenthood, via Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

Planned Parenthood, via Fibonacci Blue / Flickr

Then again, that was the point all along, wasn’t it? The fact that every piece of evidence brought against Planned Parenthood, from videos of their employees to charts documenting the services they offer, was blatantly and obscenely manipulated to make the organization look like an gleefully evil factory of baby death shows that Planned Parenthood’s opponents cared very little about the relative merits of fetal tissue research and very much about the continued existence of Planned Parenthood as an organization.

It wasn’t enough to have a debate about whether fetal tissue research is ethical, as Congress almost unanimously agreed that it was the last time they put it to a vote. And it wasn’t enough to have a debate about whether abortion should be banned again, as anti-choice activists have been beating that dead horse for over forty years. No, this debate needed to be new and different enough for anti-choice activists to get a win, and that could only happen if Planned Parenthood appeared to be doing something new and different, even if they weren’t.

Make no mistake, what Texas is doing is completely illegal. A state can’t unilaterally decide to stop implementing a federal program without cause, as they have just done. And they should know better, as Louisiana already tried to cut off Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid reimbursements, and a federal judge ordered them to resume payments until a court case concludes.

Between this and the legal challenge to the Texas’s Department of State Health Services refusing to issue birth certificates to children of undocumented immigrants, this is shaping up to be an especially bad week — among many bad weeks — for reproductive rights in Texas.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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