A group of Planned Parenthood facilities and patients have pursued legal action against the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, its Office of Inspector General and their respective administrators, Chris Traylor and Stuart W. Bowen Jr., in an effort to protect their Medicaid provider agreements.

Court papers filed Nov. 23 in the Austin Division of the Western Division of Texas explain that the Planned Parenthood affiliates “provide critically needed family planning and preventive health services to thousands of women and men in underserved areas of Texas through the Medicaid program,” stating federal law permits Medicaid enrollees to seek services from a participating provider of their choice and have those services covered by Medicaid.

The suit further shows that the Office of Inspector General of the HHSC in October notified the provider plaintiffs that the commission was terminating their provider agreements “without giving any warning or expressing any previous concerns about” the latter’s qualifications to participate in the Medicaid program.

The termination notices accused one of the Planned Parenthood clinics of selling fetal body parts to which the provider complainants countered was false.

“Because, by barring the provider plaintiffs from the Medicaid program, the defendants prevent the provider plaintiffs’ patients, including plaintiffs Jane Doe #1 through #10, from receiving services from their qualified, willing provider of choice,” the original petition says. “The defendants’ actions further impermissibly single out Plaintiffs for unfavorable treatment without adequate justification, in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

According to Planned Parenthood, more than 13,500 men and women will be deprived of basic and preventive health care services if the termination of the provider agreements is permitted to take effect as early as Dec. 8, 2015.

Attorney Thomas H. Watkins of the law firm Husch Blackwell, L.L.P in Austin is representing the provider and patient plaintiffs.

Austin Division of the Western Division of Texas Case No. 1:15-CV-01058-SS

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