- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Texas officials are moving to strip millions of Medicaid dollars from Planned Parenthood in the wake of allegations that the nation’s largest abortion provider impermissibly traffics in fetal body parts from abortions.

Stuart Bowen, the inspector general for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, sent a final notice to Planned Parenthood on Tuesday informing the group that its Medicaid funding will be cut off in 30 days, more than a year after the governor initiated the process to get Planned Parenthood off of the taxpayer dole.

Citing an undercover video investigation showing top Planned Parenthood officials discussing the trade of fetal tissue and organs, Mr. Bowen said Planned Parenthood is unfit to serve the people of Texas.

“Your misconduct is directly related to whether you are qualified to provide medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal and ethical manner,” the inspector general wrote in the letter. “Your actions violate generally accepted medical standards, as reflected in state and federal law, and are Medicaid program violations that justify termination.”

At stake is approximately $4 million in annual Medicaid funding. The letter said Planned Parenthood can appeal the decision by requesting an administrative hearing within 15 days.

Ken Lambrecht, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said the abortion provider will continue to serve low-income patients.

“In the days ahead we will take every step necessary to ensure patients can continue to count on Planned Parenthood for quality, accessible health care,” Mr. Lambrecht said in a statement. “In the meantime, our doors remain open for everyone, regardless of their income or insurance status, no matter what.”

Federal judges have blocked states’ attempts to divest Medicaid dollars from the abortion provider. The Obama administration this year warned all 50 states that denying Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood violates federal law.

Texas has been trying to defund Planned Parenthood for more than a year.

Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, instructed state health care officials in October 2015 to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood’s Texas affiliates. Texas officials warned at the time that a “final notice of termination” was impending.

Planned Parenthood responded with a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the forthcoming order. The abortion provider updated its complaint against the state on Tuesday night.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said defunding the abortion giant will result in a health care crisis of epic proportions.

“If the nation follows Texas’ lead to defund [Planned Parenthood], it will be nothing less than a national health care disaster,” Ms. Richards said in a tweet on Wednesday.

But Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee turned pro-life activist, said Planned Parenthood’s footprint in Texas is minimal when it comes to providing health care services.

“There are fewer than 100 Planned Parenthood providers across the state of Texas, showing that Planned Parenthood is not an integral part of women’s health care in our state,” Ms. Johnson said in a statement.

She said there are plenty of women’s health care centers in Texas that do not perform abortions and receive low-income patients.

“For several years, Texas lawmakers have been working to implement a program to provide for the needs of women in our state,” Ms. Johnson said. “Healthy Texas Woman has approximately 5,000 providers who are available to treat Medicaid patients.”

Earlier this month, the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives referred a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Texas to the state’s attorney general for potential criminal prosecution.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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