In two new lawsuits filed yesterday in Texas, Planned Parenthood and one of its patients challenge the state's authority to exclude the health care provider from the Texas Women's Health Program, the state-funded replacement for the Medicaid Women's Health Program (WHP). The program is slated to expire on December 31st, 2012 when its federal funding runs out. The Center for Medicaid Services has refused to continue its 90 percent match to the WHP in Texas since, earlier this year, the state excluded Planned Parenthood from providing care via the WHP because of its status as an "abortion affiliate" in the eyes of the state.
The first lawsuit has been filed by an individual Planned Parenthood client from the Rio Grande Valley, arguably the hardest hit area in Texas when it comes to access to care and where losing Planned Parenthood as a WHP provider would have devastating consequences for women there. Planned Parenthood has historically seen about half of the WHP's hundred-thousand-plus enrollees at its clinics, while individual doctors see only a handful of patients apiece. Marcela “Marcy” Balquinta is joined as a plaintiff by a number of Planned Parenthood providers in Texas.