AUSTIN, Texas — Today, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas politicians will be able to block Medicaid patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers. These terminations are a blatantly political attack that will jeopardize critical health care access for Texans with low incomes during a global pandemic. This ruling has not yet taken effect, and for now Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas continue to serve Medicaid patients across the state.
Today’s ruling is the latest in a long history of Texas' attempts to score political points with relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood and access to health care. Earlier this year, Gov. Abbott blocked access to time-sensitive, essential abortion care in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing some patients to travel hundreds of miles to neighboring states for the care they needed. And during the 2019 legislative session, Texas politicians passed Senate Bill 22 — banning local governments from partnerships with trusted providers, such as Planned Parenthood, for health care and education services.
Generations of racism and discriminatory policies force a disproportionate number people of color and women to enroll in public health programs like Medicaid. When politicians attack Medicaid patients, people of color and women who already navigate inherently discriminatory systems with fewer freedoms than others, lose the ability to choose the provider best for them. It’s just one more assault against the same communities that face unjust, systemic barriers to basic human rights, including access to affordable health care, education, and housing.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Make no mistake — forcing Planned Parenthood out of the Texas Medicaid program would have a devastating impact on Texans. And Gov. Abbott knows exactly who he’s hurting — people of color, women, and people with low incomes. Let’s be clear — patients should be able to go to the provider they know and trust regardless of their zip code and income level. Accountability is coming, and we will fight back against any politician who doesn’t prioritize expanding accessible, affordable quality health care.”
Statement of Ken Lambrecht, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas
“On behalf of our patients, Planned Parenthood Greater Texas filed a lawsuit to protect the right of Texans, not politicians, to choose where they access health care. Thousands of Texans count on Planned Parenthood for essential, lifesaving care —including breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and a full range of birth control. Too many Texans face unacceptable barriers to health care, especially people of color and low-income individuals and families. This ruling only puts health care out of reach for more low-income Texans — during a pandemic, no less. Regardless, Planned Parenthood health centers are open and providing essential health services. We will continue to stand up for our patients and their access to the provider of their choice.”
Statement of Melaney A. Linton, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast:
“Today’s decision from the 5th Circuit is yet another devastating blow in Texas’ long history of preventing people from accessing life-saving and essential health care at Planned Parenthood. Texas politicians have shown time and time again that they value extremist agendas over Texans’ access to quality, affordable health care.
“Now more than ever, we must do everything we can to expand people’s access to essential health care, not restrict it. This decision is not the end of our fight, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that our patients will always have a place to turn — no matter what.”
Statement of Jeffrey Hons, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood South Texas:
“The 5th Circuit’s ruling today puts Texans’ health care at risk by allowing Gov. Abbott to exclude Planned Parenthood from Medicaid. The governor wants to control where you can get family planning and sexual health care—once again, political ideology is driving health care policy, resulting in reduced access to care. All Texans, regardless of income , deserve access to quality, affordable health care and the ability to choose their own provider. This decision will aggravate the already egregious health disparities which are visible along racial, ethnic, and economic divides and will further disadvantage the Texans who are struggling the most.
“Our doors stay open and we are here for our patients. We will not turn our backs on our patients, and we will not stop fighting for their health and well-being.”
Three additional states — Tennessee, South Carolina, and Idaho — have pending Medicaid waivers in front of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that would restrict the ability of people enrolled in Medicaid to access Planned Parenthood health centers. Numerous other states have tried to terminate Planned Parenthood providers from Medicaid for baseless reasons, but most have been blocked by courts from doing so.
This decision follows years of attempts by Texas to cut off Medicaid patients from Planned Parenthood based on a series of elaborate, false, and debunked claims peddled by the Center for Medical Progress. In 2011, Texas replaced its federal-backed Medicaid family planning program with its own state-funded program when the Obama administration refused to allow the Texas to exclude Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from its Medicaid program. Earlier this year, the Trump administration allowed federal funds to go back into Texas’ failed program.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Texas is the 501(c)(3) organizing and education arm of the three Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas.