How Bobby Jindal Could Take Health Care Away From 5,200 People In a Week

Funding for Planned Parenthood's Gulf Coast affiliate in Lousiana could be cut off on September 2 if the organization does not prevail in the suit it filed earlier this week.

The lawsuit spells out what is at stake for the women, men, and teens who use Planned Parenthood's services.

Unless enjoined, the termination of PPGC’s Medicaid provider agreements will take effect on September 2, 2015, immediately disqualifying PPGC from providing basic and preventive health care services to over 5200 Louisiana women and men who depend on that care. Defendant’s actions will cause significant and irreparable harm to PPGC and to its Medicaid patients, including Plaintiffs Jane Doe #1, Jane Doe #2, and Jane Doe #3, who will lose their provider of choice, will find their family planning services interrupted, and will be left with few or no alternative providers. […]

PPGC does not provide abortions in Louisiana. (An organization affiliated with PPGC, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, provides abortions only in Texas.) […]

In fiscal year (FY) 2014, PPGC provided more than 15,000 health care visits to over 10,000 women, men and teens in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Nearly 75% of those visits were for patients enrolled in Medicaid in Baton Rouge, and nearly 40% of the visits in New Orleans were for Medicaid patients. Those numbers have only increased in the last year– over 60% of PPGC’s Louisiana visits are currently for patients enrolled in the Medicaid program.

The Planned Parenthood affiliate has been in Louisiana for more than 30 years, the suit explains, with health centers in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, "providing medical services to low-income enrollees in both underserved communities." It spells out those services: "physical exams, contraception and contraceptive counseling, screening for breast cancer, screening and treatment for cervical cancer, testing and treatment for certain sexually transmitted infections (“STIs”), pregnancy testing and counseling, and certain procedures including colposcopy." Here's some of what it provided in 2014 for Medicaid patients: "over 2100 well women exams, over 1200 pap smears, over 11,000 tests for STIs, and over 4100 long acting reversible contraceptives, implant contraceptives, and injectible contraceptives."

Beyond that, Planned Parenthood argues that they have the law on their side because the Medicaid law requires that the state "allow [Medicaid] recipients the same opportunities to choose among available providers of covered health care and services as are normally offered to the general population." That's part of the deal Louisiana agreed to in accepting the Medicaid program. The state can only cut off funding to a Medicaid provider if the provider has committed fraud or broken other laws. As the lawsuit points out, it "was audited by the State Legislative Auditor in 2014, pursuant to a politically motivated request from the legislature, and he concluded that PPGC’s Medicaid billings were appropriate and supported."

The only basis Gov. Bobby Jindal has for taking funding away from Planned Parenthood is political: he's trying to boost his profile in his presidential campaign. Given that he's languishing in the low single digits in every poll, he's not likely to succeed even in that.

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