Wednesday, November 25, 2020

5th Circuit En Banc Holds Medicaid Patients Cannot Challenge Planned Parenthood Defunding

In a procedurally complex holding, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals en banc in Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Family Planning and Preventive Health Services, Inc. v. Kauffman, (5th Cir., Nov. 23, 2020), vacated a preliminary injunction that had prevented Texas from terminating its Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood. Eleven of the 16 judges joined the majority opinion in full.  Three others joined it in part. Two dissented. The termination was prompted by a controversial video from a pro-life organization involving procurement of fetal tissue for research. In vacating the injunction, the majority said in part:

[T]he district court grant[ed] the Providers and Individual Plaintiffs’ [who were Medicaid patients] motion for a preliminary injunction and prohibit[ed] the termination of the Providers’ Medicaid provider agreements. The district court held that § 1396a(a)(23) granted rights to the Individual Plaintiffs upon which a § 1983 action challenging the OIG’s termination decision could be based. The district court concluded ... [that] the OIG “did not have prima facie . . . evidence, or even a scintilla of evidence, to conclude the bases of termination set forth in the Final Notice merited finding the . . . Providers were not qualified.” This appeal ensued.

A three-judge panel of this court held ... that the Individual Plaintiffs [Medicaid patients] could maintain a § 1983 suit.... We granted en banc review.

The preliminary injunction issued by the district court was based solely on the claims of the Individual Plaintiffs. The district court did not consider whether the Providers were entitled to a preliminary injunction. The question before us is whether the Individual Plaintiffs may bring a § 1983 suit to contest the State’s determination that the Providers were not “qualified” providers.... We hold that they may not. We accordingly vacate the preliminary injunction.

Because the district court did consider the Providers’ claims, no aspect of those claims is before us in this interlocutory appeal. Accordingly, we do not reach an issue addressed by JUDGE HIGGINSON’s opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, which is whether the Medicaid agreements of entities affiliated with PP Gulf Coast were properly terminated.

UPDATE: Law & Crime reports on the decision.