A pivotal lawsuit argued in a Texas federal court on Tuesday might compel Planned Parenthood to repay more than $1 billion in Medicaid payments and penalties. The ramifications of a verdict in the state’s favor could be dire, leading to the bankruptcy of all Texas affiliates and the subsequent closure of the state’s remaining Planned Parenthood clinics.
“This lawsuit was brought with the sole goal of shutting down Planned Parenthood,” the organization declared in a statement.
Notably, the lawsuit was instigated by an unidentified whistleblower from the anti-abortion organization, the Center for Medical Progress. This group is infamously known for its 2015 release of a video—which was later discredited—that purportedly showed Planned Parenthood illegally selling aborted fetal tissue for medical research.
Texas, with the backing of Attorney General Ken Paxton, asserts that Planned Parenthood committed Medicaid fraud. The allegations pinpoint a period when Planned Parenthood was combating Texas’ move to sever its Medicaid funding ties, yet continued to bill the state for health services. Under the False Claims Act, Texas seeks to recover roughly $17 million in Medicaid payments and an additional $1 billion in penalties.
Interestingly, the False Claims Act not only facilitates fines for each fraudulent transaction but also enables private citizens to litigate on behalf of the U.S. and share in the recovered amount.
However, the political landscape complicates matters. Attorney General Paxton is temporarily out of office, pending an impeachment trial for alleged bribery and misuse of office.
Planned Parenthood’s stance remains firm. Alexis McGill Johnson, the organization’s president, described the lawsuit as baseless and termed it an “existential threat” to its Texas affiliates. “This is a political charge to try to bankrupt health care in the state of Texas,” McGill Johnson commented. She further stressed that an adverse ruling would obstruct Texans from accessing vital health services, such as cancer screenings and birth control, provided by Planned Parenthood.
Currently, Planned Parenthood runs approximately 35 clinics through its three Texas affiliates.