A federal judge released a decision this morning in the battle between Louisiana and Planned Parenthood forcing the state to continue funding the abortion business for another two weeks while their legal battle continues.
After Planned Parenthood took it to court in an attempt to preserve its taxpayer funding, Louisiana is cutting off a taxpayer-funded contract with Planned Parenthood once again after the abortion business was caught selling aborted babies and their body parts. But the New Orleans newspaper reports this morning that a federal judge stepped in to keep the funding in place.
U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles, in a blistering opinion, issued the temporary restraining order late Sunday, which takes effect Monday (Oct. 19) and remains in place for at least two weeks. The decision sets up the possibility of a permanent restraining order, which would bar the Department of Health and Hospitals from stripping Planned Parenthood of funding over the long term.
Even thought hundreds of other health care options exist for the small number of women who get non-abortion health care at Planned Parenthood, the judge claimed de-funding Planned Parenthood would somehow strip them of their health care.
In the ruling, deGravelles found that if the Jindal administration carries out defunding of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Medicaid services, 5,200 patients’ health care will be unnecessarily disrupted, adding, “not even DHH can ensure that PPGC’s current patients will” be able to find other providers. DHH had argued that other health care providers could absorb the patients of Planned Parenthood, which does not perform abortions in Louisiana.
DeGravelles also found that the Jindal administration’s latest reason for terminating Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contracts involving a Texas Medicaid fraud settlement “contradicts DHH’s own code.” The state’s administrative rules “plainly and unambiguously” exempt Medicaid providers from contract termination if they do not admit liability in the settlement, which is the case with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, deGravelles wrote.
The judge also claims the Jindal administration is cancelling Planned Parenthood’s contract for political reasons based on the series of 10 videos showing Planned Parenthood selling aborted babies and their body parts:
Although deGravelles declined to rule on Planned Parenthood’s contention that the Jindal administration was canceling the contracts based on those videos, he left open the possibility of ruling on whether organizations like Planned Parenthood, which are subject to political animosity, are entitled to equal protection under the Constitution.
“Based on the record before it, it appears likely that plaintiff (Planned Parenthood) will be able to prove that the attempted terminations against it are motivated and driven, at least in large part, by reasons unrelated to its competence and unique to it,” deGravelles wrote. “However, the Court finds it is not necessary and, therefore, it need not at this time rule on plaintiffs’ equal protection argument.”
The Obama administration on Friday tried to get Planned Parenthood’s case dismissed.
Faircloth tried to persuade the court Friday (Oct. 16) to dismiss the case on mostly technical grounds.
Faircloth said that because Planned Parenthood had not pursued an administrative appeal with the state, the court shouldn’t intervene to settle a matter that could be decided at the state level. And because the Medicaid contract hadn’t yet been canceled, the case wasn’t ready to be tried in court.
DeGravelles was not persuaded. While federal courts have held that they should not become entangled in abstract matters of law when a legal question involves hypotheticals, that was not the case with Planned Parenthood, deGravelles wrote.
“The agreements’ termination has been threatened repeatedly since August 2015, and defendant (the Jindal administration) has now only swapped no reason for three,” deGravelles wrote. “Based on these circumstances and well-settled law, Plaintiffs’ (Planned Parenthood and patients’) threatened injury is clear.”
DeGravelles concluded by pointing out that Louisiana is in a situation similar to court cases challenging Medicaid defunding in Arkansas and Utah. Judges in both cases have ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor.
“This court finds it significant that defendant has yet to adequately address either case,” deGravelles wrote.
In August, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal canceled a state contract with Planned Parenthood that provides the abortion company with family planning funding through Medicaid. But Planned Parenthood went to court to block the move.
Now, Jindal is tying a different approach — this one based on the fact that Planned Parenthood has been caught in other states engaging in Medicaid fraud.
In Texas, Planned Parenthood was forced to repay the state $4.3 million after it was found to have participated in a massive Medicaid fraud scheme. A former employee of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has filed a whistleblower’s complaint with the Attorney General of Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice. The PPGC employee alleges that the abortion business engaged in an elaborate Medicaid fraud scheme.
Karen Reynolds, who worked as a “health care assistant” from 1999 to 2009 at the Lufkin, Texas, branch of the affiliate formerly known as Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, submitted company memos and emails to support her charge that PPGC has engaged in a systemwide scheme to bilk Medicaid, Title XX, and the Women’s Health Program of tens of millions of dollars over the course of at least a decade.
Reynolds alleges bosses trained employees to bill government agencies for medical and family planning services not rendered, for services no reasonable medical personnel would provide, and – the biggest bombshell – for abortion-related services fudged to appear as if they were not.
The Texas Attorney General found Planned Parenthood had defrauded the state after a thorough investigation.
Louisiana says the Texas settlement makes it so Planned Parenthood has violated Medicaid rules as a whole — thus disqualifying it for funding in the Bayou State.
After the expose’ showed Planned Parenthood selling aborted babies, Governor Jindal said, “In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life. It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state.”
Jindal’s office referenced the investigation he sought almost immediately after the first of four videos was released.
It said the governor is “multiple videos have surfaced showing Planned Parenthood Federation of America senior personnel and other employees describing how they actively engage in illegal partial birth abortion procedures and conduct these abortions in a manner that leaves body parts intact so that they can later be sold on the open market. Since these videos have surfaced, Governor Jindal has directed DHH to investigate Planned Parenthood’s activities in Louisiana and also sent a letter to both the Louisiana Inspector General and the F.B.I. asking them to assist in the investigation.”
According to the Medicaid provider contract between DHH and Planned Parenthood, along with relevant Louisiana law, either party can choose to cancel the contract at will after providing written notice.
Jindal’s office said, “Governor Jindal and DHH decided to give the required 30-day notice to terminate the Planned Parenthood Medicaid provider contract because Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life. Pending the ongoing investigation, DHH reserves the right to amend the cancellation notice and terminate the provider agreement immediately should cause be determined.”
The governor said the state health department has “concerns that Planned Parenthood could be acting in violation of Louisiana law that states no person or group contracting with the state or receiving government assistance shall require or recommend that any woman have an abortion. The state investigation into Planned Parenthood remains ongoing.”