With a new court ruling, Texas has moved one step closer to kicking Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program.
Back in 2017, a United States district judge put a preliminary injunction on Texas' plans to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding, saying that the state hadn't provided good evidence that Planned Parenthood clinics violated medical ethics, as the state claims. (The state was relying on controversial undercover videos that anti-abortion activists took.) On Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the district judge had been biased in his review of the case, and sent the case back for further review. The court of appeals' decision makes it more likely that Texas will prevail over Planned Parenthood because the new review standard is more stringent, as a law expert told the Washington Post.
If Texas does succeed in removing Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid program, what will happen to Planned Parenthood's Medicaid patients? The research on the consequences of Planned Parenthood losing public funding, which I've reported on several times before, offers a general sense of what may happen.
Some affected patients may skip out on contraception and reproductive health exams. Here's what happened when a different Texas policy went into effect that made these services more costly to receive from publicly funded clinics:
Birth control and exams that used to be free now cost, say, $50, or $70. Some said they forewent these services in favor of other needs. "That's hard when you're a single parent and have kids. That's expensive," one woman said. "With the $50, we pay [for] gas, we buy the Pampers," said another.
Some affected patients may decide to visit other clinics instead, but, depending on where they go, they may run into some challenges:
In 2014 and 2015, a team from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project interviewed staff members at 30 organizations, including women's health organizations and primary-care clinics. The researchers found clinics that weren't used to offering reproductive care often had a hard time performing their new duties.
Some clinics were slow in figuring out how to order the devices and medicines they needed. Others didn't have doctors or nurses who were trained to insert IUDs and birth-control implants.