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Texas investigators subpoena Planned Parenthood clinics

Officials site violations of both federal law and Medicaid program requirements; Shannon Bream breaks down the latest details on 'Special Report'

 

Texas health investigators visited Planned Parenthood facilities in four cities Thursday, serving subpoenas seeking hundreds of pages of patient and staff records, as well as records related to fetal tissue donations. 

The visits came three days after state officials announced Planned Parenthood clinics would no longer receive Medicaid funding following the release of undercover videos that featured discussions about fetal tissue. At the time, officials sent a letter to Planned Parenthood affiliates saying the clinics were potentially "liable, directly or by affiliation, for a series of serious Medicaid program violations" highlighted in the videos.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the decision to cut Medicaid funding "another step in providing greater access to safe health care for women while protecting our most vulnerable — the unborn."

The anti-abortion group that released the videos claims that Planned Parenthood officials illegally sold fetal tissue for profit. The organization denies any wrongdoing. 

The Texas Tribune reported, citing Planned Parenthood officials, that investigators visited facilities in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Brownsville. It reported that the investigators sought Medicaid records, billing information, and personnel information, as well as records related to Medicaid patients who donated fetal tissue after undergoing an abortion. Investigators also reportedly requested files from clinics in Austin and Waco.

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Texas health officials and the state Office of the Inspector General declined to comment on the visits, with a spokesman saying he could not comment on "any oversight or investigative activities."

Planned Parenthood officials said the subpoenas were politically motivated.

We believe this is a fishing expedition," Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas CEO Ken Lambrecht said. "We believe that this is exactly what it is, another political attack targeted at Planned Parenthood."

"[Investigators] showed up at Planned Parenthood health centers in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio looking for an excuse to take health care away from thousands of women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for preventive care,” Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of the organization’s state political arm Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, told the Tribune. “But what they will see is professional, compassionate and quality health care. Despite their efforts to distort the truth, health care — no matter what — is what happens at Planned Parenthood."

Texas alleged that Planned Parenthood had misused Medicaid funding by scheduling abortions so as to best procure fetal tissue for medical research. Planned Parenthood provides abortion at some clinics, but also medical services that include cancer screenings and health exams.
  Its Texas facilities saw nearly 13,000 Medicaid patients in 2013 alone, Lambrecht said. This year, Planned Parenthood clinics statewide have received more than $3 million in Medicaid funding, but 90 percent of that was federal.
  The group's Texas affiliates have 30 days to respond to efforts to remove it from the Medicaid program. Planned Parenthood has vowed to fight to keep its operations going -- but so far has yet to sue in an attempt to do so.
  In Louisiana, GOP presidential candidate Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered his state to remove Planned Parenthood from Medicaid in the wake of the undercover videos. Planned Parenthood sued, arguing that Louisiana can't end funding for non-abortion services, and a judge ordered the state on Monday to provide Medicaid funding for at least two more weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click for more from The Texas Tribune.

Click for more from Reuters.