By Graham Piro
A circuit court ruled Monday that Texas and Louisiana can exclude Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding, a win for the movement to deprive the abortion provider of federal funding.
The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a district court’s preliminary injunction preventing the exclusion of Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding. The court of appeals ruled in an 11-5 majority that Planned Parenthood did not have the right to challenge the state’s decisions regarding who receives Medicaid benefits.
Medicaid beneficiaries “have no right under the statute to challenge a State’s determination that a provider is unqualified,” the court’s chief judge wrote in the majority’s opinion. Because Planned Parenthood, or its patients, did not have the right to challenge Texas or Louisiana’s decision to remove it from Medicaid benefits, the states are allowed to proceed with removing the organization from Medicaid funding.
The legal battle over Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood in the two states began in 2015 after the release of controversial undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Texas and Louisiana state officials moved to kick the abortion provider out of Medicaid funding, citing the videos as evidence that the organization showed a willingness to profit off the sale of fetal tissue. In 2017, a lower court blocked the states from cutting off the Medicaid funding.
The loss of Medicaid funding comes after Planned Parenthood withdrew from Title X funding because of a Trump administration rule forbidding participants in the program from providing direct abortion referrals. The organization cannot receive federal funding for abortion services but does receive Medicaid funding for other health care services it provides.
Planned Parenthood criticized the decision for politicizing health care coverage.
“The governor wants to control where you can get family planning and sexual health care — once again, political ideology is driving health care policy, resulting in reduced access to care,” said Planned Parenthood South Texas president and CEO Jeffrey Hons.
Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, along with pro-life groups, cheered the decision.
“The Fifth Circuit correctly rejected Planned Parenthood’s efforts to prevent Texas from excluding them from the state’s Medicaid program,” Paxton said. “Undercover video plainly showed Planned Parenthood admitting to morally bankrupt and unlawful conduct, including violations of federal law by manipulating the timing and methods of abortions to obtain fetal tissue for their own research.”
Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser praised the state leaders for “working tirelessly to disentangle taxpayer dollars from the abortion industry.”
The case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.