Democratic congressional members from Texas are asking the Biden administration to push for the return of Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider, nearly a year after state leaders kicked out the organization over false claims it was selling fetal tissue.

In a letter sent late Monday to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the group urged officials to enforce the program’s “free choice” provision, which allows recipients to access family planning services from any willing and qualified provider.

The Biden administration has “made clear it is committed to protecting and expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care,” wrote the members, who were led by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher of Houston. “It has also warned that states cannot withhold Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood or block people with Medicaid from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Now, we are asking you to act.”

Planned Parenthood clinics were seeing about 8,000 Medicaid recipients in Texas before it was dropped last year, following a years-long court battle with Republican state leaders. The services were non-abortion related, and included access to birth control, cancer screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

The letter was signed by all but three of the state’s Democratic caucus: Reps. Filemon Vela, Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez.

Since taking office, the Democratic administration has reversed a Trump-era rule that barred abortion clinics from receiving federal grants for non-abortion services. Biden’s White House has also increased family planning funding for clinics in Texas following the state’s new six-week abortion ban. It has not used other means to pressure the state, such as withholding Medicaid funds.

State officials first moved to terminate the group’s Medicaid contract after secretly recorded videos were released in 2015 purporting to show staff negotiating the sale of tissues from abortions. Planned Parenthood donates fetal tissue for research and other legal uses, but it was never found to have committed any wrongdoing. The videos were later shown to have been highly edited.

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Democrats press Biden to get Planned Parenthood back into Texas Medicaid program – Houston Chronicle