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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 1, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 01
Texas strips HIV funding from Planned Parenthood
Section One
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Texas strips HIV funding from Planned Parenthood

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The state of Texas continued its feud with Planned Parenthood, stripping $600,000 from the organization's HIV screening and prevention programs.

The money comes from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) but is administered by the state government. It has been used to operate HIV services in the greater Houston area for nearly 30 years. The funds cover HIV testing and counseling, condom distribution, and referral services to connect anyone who has the virus with specialized care.

Texas officials did not say if that money is simply lost or if the state plans on shifting it to other health care providers in the area

Planned Parenthood was notified of the defunding on December 28, in a short letter that said simply, 'There will be no further renewals of this contract,' without further explanation. The group's contract with the state expires on December 31.

In October, Texas health officials announced they will block $3.1 million in Medicaid reimbursements Planned Parenthood receives every year for some 13,500 patients. That money funds cancer screenings, HIV tests, contraceptives, and other preventive health services.

Federal authorities say Texas cannot legally block Medicaid funds. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit in hopes of remaining a health care provider for Texas Medicaid patients.

In his October letter to Planned Parenthood, Texas Health Department Inspector General Stuart Bowen pointed to a recent string of videos shot by undercover anti-abortion activists as undisputed evidence that Planned Parenthood is 'no longer capable of performing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner.'

Planned Parenthood says that the videos were edited to incriminate its employees and 'do not represent a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict.'

In a prepared statement, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) President and CEO Melaney A. Linton said, 'All these years, our HIV team has done amazing and admirable work, and it is devastating that PPGC will no longer be able to do this work out in the community.'

'We are the largest grantee of this type of grant in Houston, so not renewing our grant will leave a big void for people getting tested and treated in our community,' said PPGC spokeswoman Alejandra Diaz in an email to the press.

According to Texas Human Services Commission spokesperson Bryan Black, 'We see a clear legislative directive of shifting state resources away from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.'

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