ALEXANDRIA, La., Sept. 2 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Justice said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s cancellation of a contract with Planned Parenthood violates the Medicare Act.
A brief, filed late Monday in federal court in Louisiana on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is supportive of Planned Parenthood, a non-profit reproductive health and child services agency and a target of Republican legislators and governors, including Jindal, an aspirant for the Republican presidential nomination. A series of undercover videos, released in recent weeks, suggests the organization actively seeks fetal tissue to sell; it has denied the allegations, noting any payment is compensation for expenses and not profit.
A recent review of the videos also found them to be heavily edited.
Jindal announced in August that Planned Parenthood would be removed from Louisiana’s Medicaid program, citing the state’s prerogative to cancel contracts at will. Alabama and Arkansas were also attempting to strip state funding to Planned Parenthood.
The filing comes prior to a court hearing Wednesday.
“Louisiana has not proffered sufficient reasons to terminate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. (PPGC) from its Medicaid program. Terminating PPGC from its Medicaid program without providing any justification related to PPGC’s qualifications to provide medical services would violate Louisiana’s obligations under the Medicaid statute’s ‘free choice of provider’ provision. States do not have unfettered discretion to determine that a provider is not ‘qualified’ for purposes of federal Medicaid law,” the Department of Justice’s brief says in part.
The brief says federal law overrides Jindal’s actions.
Jindal responded, in a statement Tuesday.
“President Obama is so committed to protecting Planned Parenthood’s baby-harvesting operation that he sent his lawyers from the Department of Justice all the way to Baton Rouge, La., to sue me and try to stop us from canceling these contracts.”
Planned Parenthood has said defunding its services in Louisiana would end access to medical care for up to 5,200 clients and close its Baton Rouge clinic, one of only two in the state.