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Texas Gives Medicaid Recipients Using Planned Parenthood 30 Days To Find A New Provider

Medicaid recipients in Texas using Planned Parenthood have been given 30 days to find a new health care provider now that Planned Parenthood has been kicked out of the program.

Last month, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas asked the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to allow them to continue serving patients insured through the program for low-income people "in light of the COVID-19 public health crisis facing Texas."

However, this week, officials denied the request.

In a response letter, state health officials said there will be a grace period until Feb. 3 "to ensure that current Medicaid clients receiving services at your clinics can be transitioned to new providers.”

The conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled late last year that the state could kick the chain of family-planning clinics out of the program.

Officials 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.

Planned Parenthood officials have warned that removing them from Texas’ Medicaid program will hurt many people who rely on the clinics for primary care services, cancer screenings and reproductive health care services.

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, the medical director for primary and trans care at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said it will be hard for many of these patients to find new providers.

“Finding a new provider with a limited amount of time is difficult in most scenarios, but even more so in a state like Texas which is so big and has so many rural areas,” he said. “And sometimes Planned Parenthood may be the only place where they can access health care.”

Kumar said it’s likely that many of the 8,000 Medicaid recipients in Texas who rely on Planned Parenthood will be forced to forgo health care.

“The fact remains that there are still not sufficient Medicaid providers to absorb Planned Parenthood patients in Texas,” he said. “For a group of folks who is already severely marginalized, this is just one other thing they are having to deal with and it’s just really unfortunate and really unnecessary.”

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

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