Texas Lawsuit Against Planned Parenthood Challenges Medicaid Reimbursements

Initially revealed by The 19th.

Deliberate Parenthood Federation of America and Texas Deliberate Parenthood associates have requested a decide for a ruling of their favor in a lawsuit introduced by the state of Texas that accused Deliberate Parenthood of Medicaid fraud.

The swimsuit was filed in January 2022 by Texas Lawyer Basic Ken Paxton, however the scenario goes again to 2016, when the state of Texas barred Planned Parenthood from participating in its Medicaid program. If the decide doesn’t rule in favor of both social gathering, the case will almost definitely transfer to a jury trial this spring. The lawsuit is one among a lot of strikes made by states that might restrict or forestall suppliers from practising, whilst state legislatures prohibit entry to abortion within the wake of the Supreme Court docket’s choice in Dobbs v. Jackson Ladies’s Well being Group leaving legality as much as the states.

In Indiana, Lawyer Basic Todd Rokita filed a grievance with the state medical board in opposition to abortion supplier Dr. Caitlin Bernard. Bernard first entered nationwide headlines after performing a authorized abortion on a 10-year-old who had traveled to Indiana from Ohio for an abortion that she couldn’t obtain in her residence state. Rokita initially claimed that Bernard did not correctly report this abortion, although documents reviewed by The 19th confirmed that she had. Rokita’s workplace, in its grievance to the medical board, mentioned Bernard didn’t shield the privateness of her minor affected person.

“As an alternative, she violated her sacred oath of confidentiality by deliberately exposing her 10-year-old affected person’s trauma to the media, all for the sake of furthering her political beliefs,” Rokita mentioned in an emailed assertion. Bernard’s first listening to earlier than the Indiana Medical Assessment Board is scheduled for subsequent month. She has denied all wrongdoing.

Dobbs now makes abortion suppliers and reproductive well being suppliers usually extra weak, politically and legally. However that additionally implies that individuals are paying consideration,” Elizabeth Sepper, a professor on the College of Texas Regulation College who focuses on well being legislation and spiritual liberty, instructed The nineteenth.

Sepper mentioned that whereas a lot of states have made efforts to exclude Deliberate Parenthood from Medicaid applications and particular person abortion suppliers have lengthy discovered themselves topic to a myriad of intense bureaucratic regulation and compliance necessities, the local weather is now “extra hostile” — which implies that the tone and tenor of actions taken in opposition to networks of clinics and particular person suppliers alike is simply too.

A request for touch upon the deserves of the swimsuit from Paxton’s workplace had not acquired a reply by the point of publication.

The most recent transfer by Deliberate Parenthood within the Texas case got here late Friday, simply earlier than a deadline to reply. In January 2022, the state of Texas and an nameless plaintiff sued Planned Parenthood’s national office and the three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas, alleging that Deliberate Parenthood was not entitled to maintain sure Medicaid reimbursements. When these reimbursements had been acquired, courtroom orders allowed Deliberate Parenthood to take part within the state program; that ended in 2021. Plaintiffs are suing the three Texas Deliberate Parenthood associates not just for the roughly $17 million they acquired in Medicaid reimbursements however for over $1 billion in further penalties and damages. The state’s deadline to reply to Deliberate Parenthood’s new submitting for a abstract judgment is January 27, and Deliberate Parenthood’s reply transient to the state is due on February 10. If the decide within the swimsuit doesn’t difficulty a right away ruling on the case, it’ll almost definitely transfer to a jury trial this spring.

Laura Terrill, CEO of Deliberate Parenthood of South Texas, mentioned the lawsuit is “the most recent political assault” by Texas officers.

“That is about controlling individuals’s our bodies and lives. It isn’t sufficient right here in Texas to easily ban abortion, however now the state is shutting down well being care suppliers and stopping them from assembly the well being care wants of Texans,” Terrill mentioned.

Terrill referred to as the Texas case meritless and a part of a relentless technique to restrict entry to well being care by focusing on suppliers seen not simply in Texas, however nationwide in states already hostile to reproductive well being care.

Nicole Huberfeld, the Edward R. Utley Professor in Well being Regulation at Boston College’s College of Regulation, mentioned anti-abortion politicians are “emboldened” by the Dobbs choice.

“Lawyer generals are political actors, and a few consider they are often reelected primarily based on being aggressive in prosecuting abortion circumstances,” she mentioned.

Whereas prosecuting docs will not be usually politically well-liked, she mentioned, it will probably scare different suppliers. On this manner, the scenario in Texas with Deliberate Parenthood will not be dissimilar to what’s taking place with Bernard, she mentioned. “I see this as harassment litigation — it seems to don’t have any different function. A decide ought to contemplate it frivolous, however that will not happen with sympathetic courts,” she mentioned of the Texas swimsuit. “Such methods might have a chilling impact on well being care suppliers, who are typically risk-averse.”

Physicians and nurses are already fearful in regards to the restrictions by states and the way they might impression their potential to supply care.

“Once I converse with physicians, they’re terrified that they are going to lose their license once they present care that’s in keeping with the usual of care in a given scenario — and meaning they are going to decelerate once they make medical selections, which may jeopardize affected person well being and security,” Huberfeld mentioned. “Clinicians are typically conservative when it comes to not desirous to take dangers, and they’re afraid that practising to the usual of care will jeopardize their sufferers and their potential to follow.”

Sepper mentioned that what is occurring in Indiana and Texas might ship a message to suppliers that household planning usually is at risk — inflicting OB-GYNs to need to disassociate themselves from abortion suppliers and the subject of abortion altogether. This sort of response, she mentioned, “would come at a very inopportune second as a result of we do want docs to get a spine and to discuss what they’re seeing as OB-GYNs and about how necessary abortion entry is to pregnant individuals.”