Baton Rouge, LA – In a victory for Louisiana women, a judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocks Governor Jindal’s illegal attempts to bar Planned Parenthood patients from accessing care through Medicaid. This injunction ensures that the over 5,200 Louisiana women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for their health care will continue to be able to while the case moves forward.
“This ruling is a victory for the 5,200 people in Louisiana who rely on Planned Parenthood for essential health care,” said Melissa Flournoy, Louisiana State Director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. “It is offensive that Governor Jindal continues to play political games with women’s health care --- doing everything in his power to ban abortions and eliminate access to care. He cannot drown out the voices of Louisianans who want access to STI testing, birth control, and lifesaving cancer screenings. We are not going anywhere.”
“This is another important victory for women in Louisiana and a defeat for Governor Jindal’s outrageous attempts to restrict access to reproductive health” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We will not stop fighting in Louisiana and across to entire country to ensure that people can get high-quality care from the health care provider they trust, Planned Parenthood.”
The Jindal administration overtly tied its termination of Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract to the thoroughly discredited smear campaign based on heavily edited and deceptive videos from anti-abortion extremists. The state also cited the settlement of a baseless lawsuit filed by a former employee in Texas in which there was no admission or finding of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. In fact, the state of Louisiana has confirmed as recently as February 2014 in an audit of Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid billing practices in Louisiana that it follows all laws and regulations.
This injunction comes after rulings in Arkansas and Alabama finding that states cannot cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for critical preventive health care. To date, two federal Courts of Appeals, the Seventh and Ninth Circuits, have blocked similar laws enacted in Indiana and Arizona, and the Supreme Court declined to review both of those rulings.
Background on Planned Parenthood in Louisiana:
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast plays an important role in ensuring women throughout Louisiana have access to family planning care. This is particularly the case in Baton Rouge, where Governor Jindal’s hostile health care policies forced LSU Earl K. Long Medical Center and the Baton Rouge General Medical Center-Mid City emergency room to close. According to research from the Guttmacher Institute, in 2010, of the total number of female contraceptive clients served at publicly funded clinics in East Baton Rouge parish, Planned Parenthood served nearly 60 percent of them. In Orleans Parish, Planned Parenthood cared for three in 10 of them.
In a recent investigative piece by the New York Times, local and national public health experts made it clear that other providers cannot meet the tremendous need for care without Planned Parenthood. Dr. Stephanie Taylor, the medical director overseeing programs to combat sexually transmitted infections for the State Office of Public Health, noted: “You can’t just cut Planned Parenthood off one day and expect everyone across the city to absorb the patients.” Sara Rosenbaum JD, a professor at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services “called it ‘an absurd claim’ that other health providers could replace Planned Parenthood, especially in the South and Midwest.” Noel Twilbeck, the chief executive of CrescentCare, which operates three clinics in New Orleans, stated: “Planned Parenthood provides medical care, comprehensive services to many women, men and families in our community. We cannot afford to have those resources go away.”
Planned Parenthood has two health centers in Louisiana, located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and both of these health centers provide care in Health Professional Shortage Areas. In a single year, Planned Parenthood health centers in Louisiana provide approximately 10,000 patients high-quality reproductive health services including well-woman exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing and risk reduction counseling, a full range of FDA-approved birth control methods, pregnancy testing and options counseling, and other preventive health services; and a significant proportion of these patients in Louisiana receive this care through Medicaid.
Today there are more than 320,000 women in need of affordable family planning care in Louisiana. Nearly one in five women in Louisiana is uninsured and New Orleans and Baton Rouge have some of the highest HIV infection rates of all U.S. cities. New Orleans in particular faces some of the nation’s worst health outcomes. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city has lacked health care options for those most in need. In fact, in a recent survey of New Orleans residents 10 years after Katrina, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of residents say there are not enough health care services available for uninsured and low-income people in New Orleans and about one-quarter of residents (23 percent) say that in the past six months, they have skipped or postponed needed medical care.
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 approximately 700 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.
October 30, 2015