Austin – The Texas Office of the Inspector General announced Monday that it has taken steps to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates from the state’s Medicaid program, citing violations observed in recently released undercover videos.
An anti-abortion group began releasing videos in July that show undercover activists impersonating representatives of a tissue procurement company in order to meet with Planned Parenthood officials. The group alleges that Planned Parenthood is profiting from tissue donation reimbursements.
A video from inside a Houston abortion clinic was released in August.
The “violations” cited by the Inspector General include a suggestion in the video that doctors could use a different method to perform an abortion in order to preserve intact fetal tissue, and that Planned Parenthood created an unsanitary work environment for allowing access to the undercover group.
Planned Parenthood officials on both a state and national level have denied claims that they have broken the law or turned a profit from fetal tissue donation. The videos, they say, are heavily edited.
Gov. Greg Abbott praised the move as an “unyielding commitment to both protecting life and providing women’s health services.”
“Ending the Medicaid participation of Planned Parenthood affiliates in the State of Texas is another step in providing greater access to safe healthcare for women while protecting our most vulnerable – the unborn,” he said.
State leaders called for investigations of Planned Parenthood following the the videos’ release to be conducted by the office of the attorney general, Health and Human Services Commission and a state senate committee. So far, the results of those investigations have not been released.
Over the last three years, Texas has cut off Planned Parenthood from most state funding sources. Affiliates could, until now, receive Medicaid reimbursements for birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment and prevention of HIV and STDs.
Planned Parenthood received $3 million for Medicaid reimbursements in fiscal year 2015, according to the Health and Human Services Commission.
National Planned Parenthood officials said the state’s move “should be a national scandal.”
“It is completely outrageous that Texas officials are using thoroughly discredited, fraudulent videos to cut women off from preventive health care,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
In 2013, state lawmakers removed Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers affiliated with abortion from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which provides birth control, cancer screenings and HIV and STD tests and treatment to low-income women. The move prompted the federal government withdraw funding for the program. Now Texas spends about $36 million per year on the fully state funded program.
This year, Planned Parenthood was removed from another state program that provided screening for breast and cervical cancer to low income women and connected them with treatment options.
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, the affiliate that operates family planning clinics in Houston and the surrounding area, said the move has “nothing to do with the well-being of the people of Texas.”
“Tens of thousands of women are already going without care after years of policies aimed at blocking access to care at Planned Parenthood,” spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla said. “Now Texas politicians are using a thoroughly discredited, bogus attacks against Planned Parenthood as a shameful excuse to attack Texas women’s health yet again.”
Laguens vowed to fight the exclusion “with everything we’ve got.”
A federal district court in Louisiana Monday temporarily blocked similar attempts by officials in that state to terminate Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract.