Things to know as Texas tells Planned Parenthood cuts coming

AP News
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Posted: Dec 21, 2016 4:40 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Planned Parenthood is poised to end 2016 in a familiar place: in court, asking a judge to stop a Republican-controlled state from blocking Medicaid dollars. Here's how the nation's largest abortion provider got there and what's next:

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TEXAS LATEST STATE TO CUT OFF DOLLARS

Texas health officials told Planned Parenthood this week that they will boot the organization from the state's Medicaid program come January. At stake is about $4 million to Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas that serve nearly 11,000 low-income women each year, according to the group. No public funding in Texas is used for abortion, while Medicaid reimbursements cover services that include well-women exams, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and birth control. Planned Parenthood said late Tuesday it will ask a federal court to block the defunding.

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PLANNED PARENTHOOD HAS PREVAILED ELSEWHERE

Federal judges have already stopped other states — including Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Arizona, Indiana and Utah — from suspending Medicaid dollars as Texas plans. U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III noted in an October ruling against the state of Mississippi that every court to consider similar laws has found they violate the "free-choice-of-provider" provision of federal law.

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SECRETLY RECORDED VIDEOS CONTINUE DRIVING GOP EFFORTS

Texas health officials noted in letters Tuesday that their decision was based on an anti-abortion group's secretly recorded videos in 2015 that claimed to show Planned Parenthood officials profiting from sales of fetal tissue for medical research. Investigations by 13 states into those videos have been concluded without criminal charges, although a congressional panel is still investigating. Planned Parenthood has denied allegations of wrongdoing, but has stopped accepting reimbursement for the costs involved in providing fetal tissue to researchers.

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POTENTIAL DEFUNDING ALSO LOOMS IN CONGRESS

The GOP-controlled Congress is pushing a defunding measure that would strip roughly $400 million in Medicaid money from Planned Parenthood, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and would result in roughly 400,000 women losing access to care. President-elect Donald Trump said during his campaign that Planned Parenthood helped "millions of women" but has also endorsed calls for defunding. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, the daughter of former Democratic Texas Gov. Ann Richards, says "if the nation goes the way of Texas, it will be nothing less than a national health care disaster."

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TEXAS BOOTED PLANNED PARENTHOOD BEFORE

Texas has been aggressive in its efforts to weaken Planned Parenthood, including kicking the organization out of a state women's health program in 2013. Earlier this year, a top Texas health official who co-authored a study suggesting that cuts to Planned Parenthood restricted access to women's health care resigned under pressure from state leaders who disputed the findings. A revamped women's health program, which state officials say will triple the number of providers from five years ago, gave one contract to the nonprofit of a prominent anti-abortion activist.

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Associates Press writer Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.

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Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber