The legislature’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood before the U.S. Supreme Court

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

TalibanLast November the state of Arizona petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down the Arizona legislature's attempt to defund Planned Parenthood of Arizona as a family planning service under Medicaid (AHCCCS) on the specious argument that it also separately provides for abortion services. Providing funding to the family planning services side of Planned Parenthood allegedly "indirectly" subsidizes the separately maintained and accounted for abortion services of Planned Parenthood.

State and federal law have long prohibited public funding of abortions, hence the separation of services and separate accounting by Planned Parenthood. Should the state of Arizona succeed on its specious claim, many areas of the state would lose family planning services because Planned Parenthood is the only provider in those areas. Planned Parenthood also provides wellness services for such things as cancer screening for cervical and breast cancers, and a host of other services. In effect, the Arizona legislature, at the behest of Mullah Cathi Herrod and her Christian Taliban at the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), would deny low income Arizona women access to basic health care and family planning services.

The case is Tom Betlach, Director, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, et al., v. Planned Parenthood Arizona, Inc., et al. (Docket 13-621). A responsive brief was due on January 21, 2014.

Howard Fischer reports today, Planned Parenthood fights state effort to cut off funding:

Planned Parenthood wants the U.S. Supreme Court to block a last-ditch effort by the state to cut off its Medicaid funds.

In legal briefs filed late Tuesday, attorney Alice Clapman said there is no legal basis for arguments by Attorney General Tom Horne that Arizona can pick and choose who is legally qualified to provide family planning services.

She said federal law spells out that Medicaid recipients can choose where to get care as long as the doctor or medical staff is professionally qualified. And Clapman said the state has presented no evidence that anyone at Planned Parenthood fails to meet the standards.

But Horne insists that Arizona lawmakers are entitled to decide the mere fact that Planned Parenthood also performs abortions is reason to disqualify the organization from getting any state or federal money. He said those dollars can be used to effectively subsidize abortions.

That argument has been rejected thus far, prompting Horne to petition for high court intervention because both a trial judge and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state’s logic is flawed.

Both Arizona and federal laws already bar the use of public funds for abortions that are not medically necessary.

But the state, as part of its participation in the federal Medicaid program, provides family planning services for needy women. The federal government pays 90 percent, with the state covering the balance.

Medicaid law also permits eligible women to choose from any qualified provider, which has included Planned Parenthood.

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In seeking Supreme Court review, Horne argued it’s a question of state’s rights for Arizona to decide who is qualified to provide family planning services. He said the 2012 law “reflects a public policy preference for childbirth over abortion and gives effect to Arizona’s justifiably strong interest in recognizing the inherent difference of abortion from other medical procedures.’’

Clapman, however, said the only role for the state is to decide [under the Medicaid law is] if a provider is “medically qualified.’’ And she said that Arizona, in accepting federal funds, has agreed to live by federal rules.

“So in this area, when we’re talking about Medicaid funds, there is no role for them to impose external policy preferences on providers,’’ Clapman said. “They have to follow the Medicaid Act.’’

That was also the conclusion of the 9th Circuit.

Judge Marsha Berzon, writing for the court, said accepting Arizona’s argument would allow another state to contend that only doctors who perform abortions are entitled to Medicaid funding. Similarly, it would let states decide that Medicaid services could be provided only by osteopaths, nonsmokers or affiliates of the state’s medical school “on the grounds that only doctors within that category are worthy of receiving Medicaid funds.’’

Horne contends Arizona never knew its contract to receive the funds would allow the federal government alone to decide who is qualified to provide family planning services.

Clapman said that argument holds no water. “This freedom-of-choice provision has been in law for decades,’’ she said.

The case has not been assigned to Conference by the Supreme Court.

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