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Access to care following Planned Parenthood's termination from Texas' Medicaid network: A qualitative study.

Contraception 2023 August 18
OBJECTIVES: To explore Planned Parenthood Medicaid patients' experiences getting reproductive health care in Texas after the state terminated Planned Parenthood providers from its Medicaid program in 2021.

STUDY DESIGN: Between January and September 2021, we recruited Medicaid patients who obtained care at Planned Parenthood health centers prior to the state termination using direct mailers, electronic messages, community outreach, and flyers in health centers. We conducted baseline and two-month follow-up semi-structured phone interviews about patients' previous experiences using Medicaid at Planned Parenthood and other providers and how the termination affected their care. We qualitatively analyzed the data, using the principles of grounded theory.

RESULTS: We interviewed 30 patients, 24 of whom completed follow-up interviews. Participants reported that Planned Parenthood reliably accepted different Medicaid plans, worked with patients to ameliorate the structural barriers they face to care, and referred them to other providers as needed. After Planned Parenthood's termination from the Texas Medicaid program, participants faced difficulties accessing care elsewhere, including same-day appointments and on-site medications. Consequences included delayed or forgone reproductive health care, including contraception, and emotional distress.

CONCLUSIONS: Planned Parenthood Medicaid patients found it difficult to connect with other providers for reproductive healthcare and to obtain evidence-based care following the organization's termination from Medicaid. Ensuring all Medicaid patients have freedom to choose providers would improve access to quality contraception and other reproductive health care.

IMPLICATIONS: Medicaid-funded reproductive health care access is restricted for people living on low incomes when providers do not reliably accept all Medicaid plans or cannot participate in Medicaid. This situation can lead to lower-quality care, delayed or forgone care, and emotional distress.

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