The battle over state funding for Planned Parenthood in Louisiana is heating up, after the Obama administration on Tuesday sided with the abortion giant in their lawsuit against the state.
The AP reports:
The U.S. Justice Department told a federal judge that Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision to oust Planned Parenthood from Louisiana's Medicaid program appears to violate federal law by denying Medicaid patients the right to choose their health care providers.
In a court filing, the agency said the Jindal administration hasn't offered "sufficient reasons" to keep Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast's clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge from receiving Medicaid payments.
Removing Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program "without providing any justification related to (the organization's) qualifications to provide medical services would violate Louisiana's obligations under the Medicaid statute's 'free choice of provider' provision," the Justice Department wrote.
Jindal made the decision to pull funding after numerous undercover videos came out showing the group’s practices selling aborted babies’ body parts.
His administration maintains that the move was perfectly legal. According to what Jindal’s spokesman, Mike Reed, has previously argued, “The Medicaid provider contract between the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and Planned Parenthood gives either party the right to cancel the contract at will with a 30-day notice. Governor Jindal and DHH chose to exercise that right to cancel.”
But the DOJ disagrees with this claim.
[T]he Justice Department called that claim "wholly without merit," saying Louisiana cannot rely on a state law to justify Planned Parenthood's ousting, but must show that the clinics aren't able to perform Medicaid services or properly bill for them.
Louisiana can't simply argue that the providers agreed in state contracts that they can be removed "at-will" and give up any right to sue when removed because they signed the arrangements, the Justice Department said.
"States do not have unfettered discretion to determine that a provider is not 'qualified' for purposes of federal Medicaid law," the agency wrote.
Regardless, Jindal is standing by his decision over the funding.
“President Obama is so committed to protecting Planned Parenthood’s baby harvesting operation that he sent his lawyers from the Department of Justice all the way to Baton Rouge to sue me and try to stop us from canceling these contracts,” a statement on his campaign website reads. “President Obama won’t watch the videos but he’ll take time to file a lawsuit. Well, I’ve got news for him. We are not backing down.”