October 26, 2015 — It will take at least one month for Texas to determine whether it can terminate its Medicaid agreement with Planned Parenthood, according to a Texas official, the Texas Tribune reports (Ramsey, Texas Tribune, 10/24).
The Texas Office of Inspector General last week announced that it would end about $3 million in funding for Planned Parenthood, most of which is federal funding that helps cover health care services for low-income patients. In their notice to Planned Parenthood, state officials cited a series of misleading videos targeting the organization. Planned Parenthood officials have pledged to continue providing services in Texas.
Meanwhile, courts have blocked similar efforts to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood in other states, including Arkansas, Louisiana and Utah (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/23).
State: Contract Not Terminated
On Saturday, Stuart Bowen, head of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission OIG, clarified that the state had not yet terminated Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contract. He said that the "notice of termination" sent to the organization initiates the process of determining whether Planned Parenthood should retain its status as a Medicaid provider in the state. Bowen said, "We did not terminate [Planned Parenthood]," adding, "We began a process ... inclusive of the development of evidence."
According to the Tribune, the announcement last week about Planned Parenthood's funding might have sounded as if it was a final decision based on the phrasing of the original notice, as well as statements issued by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and other officials from the state.
The organization has 30 days to respond to the notice. Once Planned Parenthood has responded to the request, its Medicaid provider contract with Texas would not be terminated "until and unless" the state gives a "final notice of termination," according to the Tribune. The provider also would be able to ask OIG for an administrative hearing.
Records Request Revised
Meanwhile, the state has revised a records request that was issued on Thursday to four clinics, the Tribune reports (Texas Tribune, 10/24).
The state had subpoenaed Planned Parenthood clinics in Brownsville, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, requesting Medicaid records and data on billing and personnel (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/23). Bowen had requested initially that Planned Parenthood respond to the subpoenas within 24 hours. However, he said the deadline has been pushed back to this week, the Tribune reports. He also noted that complying with the request might require additional time.
Further, Bowen's office is no longer requesting that Planned Parenthood provide personal information on staff. His office had requested staff members' addresses and phone numbers.
However, the state is still requesting case files that contain patient information (Texas Tribune, 10/24).