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Texas Officials Temporarily Blocked From Kicking Planned Parenthood Out Of Medicaid

Julia Reihs

A Travis County district court temporarily blocked the state from kicking Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program on Wednesday.

Judge Maya Guerra Gamble wrote that "immediate and irreparable harm will result" to Planned Parenthood affiliates if they are stripped of Medicaid funding before they have time to make their case.

Earlier Wednesday, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas filed an emergency lawsuit in an effort to stop the state from blocking 8,000 low-income Texans on Medicaid from receiving care at the chain of family-planning clinics.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled late last yearthat the state could kick Planned Parenthood out of the program. State officials last month gave Medicaid recipients 30 days to find a new provider. That meant Planned Parenthood would officially be out of the program starting Thursday.

Officials first tried to remove Planned Parenthood in 2015, citing a highly edited video created by anti-abortion advocates that purported to show clinic officials selling fetal tissue. For years, however, a lower court ruling prevented the state from officially removing the organization. That is, until a higher court overturned that ruling.

Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said the state’s effort was “the latest in a long history of Texas politicians trying to score points with relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood” and its patients.

“Abbott’s urgency to block Planned Parenthood patients from the care they need during a pandemic left patients with 30 days to scramble for a new provider in a Medicaid system already suffering from chronic provider shortages,” she said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.

The court order Wednesday blocks the state’s effort for 14 days until a hearing can be held.

Got a tip? Email Ashley Lopez at alopez@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.

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Ashley Lopez joined KUT in January 2016.