On Monday, a group of Democratic members of Congress from Texas issued a letter urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to enforce Medicaid’s free choice of provider requirement and require the State of Texas to reinstate Planned Parenthood as a qualified Medicaid provider.
Rep. Lizzie Fletcher led her colleagues in issuing the letter, which was signed by Reps. Lloyd Doggett, Colin Allred, Sylvia Garcia, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Veronica Escobar, Joaquin Castro, Al Green, Marc Veasey, and Sheila Jackson Lee.
“As you are aware, patients in Texas who use Medicaid have been unable to access basic and critical reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood for almost a year because of the baseless and continued termination of Planned Parenthood Texas affiliates (“Planned Parenthood providers”) from the Texas Medicaid program,” read the letter, which was addressed to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services Daniel Tsai. “As members of the Texas Congressional delegation, we are deeply concerned and alarmed by this unlawful action by the State of Texas, and we request that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) fulfill its duty to ensure health care access for people with low incomes and enforce Medicaid’s free choice of provider requirement immediately.”
Members also noted that Planned Parenthood providers were the only source of health care for many patients in Texas
Over a year ago, Texas officials and a court order booted Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program over a highly edited and unverified video that suggested abortion providers were selling fetal tissue for profit.
Federal law gives Medicaid beneficiaries the right to choose their health care providers so long as said providers are qualified. The determination of whether a provider is “qualified” must be based on its, “capability of performing the needed medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner.”
“The White House has made clear it is committed to protecting and expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care, as well as ensuring that Medicaid patients are able to use their health coverage without discriminatory barriers that undermine the program and health care access,” the letter continued. “It has also warned that states cannot withhold Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood or block people with Medicaid from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Now, we are asking you to act.”