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Jindal vs. Planned Parenthood (again)

DHH offers new reasons for pulling Medicaid funding



  Just as quickly as Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration withdrew plans to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood in the state, it announced plans to introduce another assault on the organization. The administration faced scrutiny in U.S. District Court earlier this month as Planned Parenthood sought an injunction to prevent Louisiana from defunding the organization.

  Jindal and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) sought to cancel the state's Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood after a heavily edited video surfaced of Planned Parenthood officials allegedly discussing selling fetal tissue. The governor has made defunding Planned Parenthood a cornerstone of his presidential campaign.

  Planned Parenthood, which operates in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, does not currently perform abortions in Louisiana and is one of the state's largest providers of reproductive health care, cancer screenings and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases. The state argued that 2,000 other family planning providers in the state could offer those services, which Planned Parenthood officials disputed.

  "It's just simply not true that there are other Medicaid providers that can absorb patients," Planned Parenthood spokesperson Raegan Carter told Gambit last month. "They don't exist. If they did exist, we wouldn't be in the same crisis."

  U.S. District Judge John deGravelles questioned the list of alternate preventative sexual health caregivers provided by the state — which included dentists and ear, nose and throat doctors, among others. (The state later provided a smaller list with 29 providers.) "It strikes me as extremely odd that you have a dermatologist, an audiologist, a dentist who are billing for family planning services," deGravelles said at a hearing last month. "You're telling me that they can provide family planning and related services?"

  On Sept. 15, DHH again attempted to terminate Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contract, citing a lawsuit the organization settled (with no admission of wrongdoing) in Texas for $4.3 million in 2013. Texas officials had alleged Planned Parenthood had overbilled for Medicaid and other reimbursements. Planned Parenthood

  "The Jindal administration is determined to cut off thousands of Louisiana women and men from their trusted health care provider," said Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Director Melissa Flournoy.

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