As of yesterday, Texas is no longer funding Planned Parenthood, having successfully removed the abortion company from the state’s list of eligible Medicaid providers. The move comes a few months after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas had the right to determine for itself whether or not to fund a particular provider through its Medicaid program.
In that ruling, which I covered for NRO late last November, the Fifth Circuit reversed lower court rulings that had blocked both Texas and Louisiana from defunding Planned Parenthood. The decision came from the entire court, undoing a previous three-judge-panel ruling against Texas.
According to Judge Priscilla Owen, who wrote for the eleven-judge majority on the Fifth Circuit, the women who sued Texas over its decision to defund Planned Parenthood did not have standing to challenge the state’s determination that the abortion group was unqualified. Federal law “does not unambiguously provide that a Medicaid patient may contest a State’s determination that a particular provider is not ‘qualified,’” Owen wrote.
The decision affirmed that states and the federal government, not Medicaid beneficiaries, are the arbiters of whether any given group is qualified to be a Medicaid provider. In Texas, the Health and Human Services Commission first attempted to remove Planned Parenthood from the state Medicaid program after verified undercover footage revealed that the abortion provider had broken federal law by profiting from the sale of the body parts of aborted babies.
Writing at Hot Air, Karen Townsend notes that the largest Planned Parenthood facility in the U.S. is located in Houston. “Planned Parenthood facilities in Texas receive about $3.1 million in taxpayer funding from Medicaid annually,” she adds. “An estimated 8,000 Texans use its facilities every year in the state.”
Texas Right to Life points out that “seven federal circuit courts have now written opinions on whether Medicaid patients can sue states that have disqualified Medicaid providers.” Two of those courts decided in favor of the states, while five ruled against them. Eventually, the question will have to be settled at the Supreme Court.