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Ark. Advances Plans To Block Most Medicaid Funding for Planned Parenthood After Court Ruling

Ark. Advances Plans To Block Most Medicaid Funding for Planned Parenthood After Court Ruling

October 5, 2015 — Arkansas will cut almost all of Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funding after U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a preliminary injunction ordering that Arkansas must continue Medicaid payments for three women who challenged Gov. Asa Hutchinson's (R) original decision to block the funds, Reuters reports (Barnes, Reuters, 10/2).

Background

Hutchinson last month ordered the state Department of Human Services to end its Medicaid provider contract with Planned Parenthood within 30 days. In the last fiscal year, Planned Parenthood clinics in the state received more than $51,000 in Medicaid reimbursements for gynecological services and family planning.

Hutchinson's move followed the release of a series of misleading, secretly recorded videos targeting Planned Parenthood, which were released by an antiabortion-rights group called the Center for Medical Progress. Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal.

In September, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Hutchinson's decision. Later that month, Baker ordered Arkansas to temporarily reinstate the state's Medicaid contract, granting Planned Parenthood's request that Hutchinson's order ending the contract be delayed for 14 days (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/21). According to AP/Modern Healthcare, that order expired on Oct. 2 (AP/Modern Healthcare, 10/3).

Separately, Alabama and Louisiana also announced plans to terminate Medicaid contracts with the organization following the videos' release. HHS subsequently warned Alabama and Louisiana that their efforts to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds could violate federal law. Planned Parenthood has also challenged those states' moves to cut Medicaid contracts with the organization (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/21).

Hutchinson To End Other Medicaid Funding for Planned Parenthood

On Friday, Hutchinson said the state would end Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood other than the funding protected under Baker's orders.

According to Hutchinson, Baker's ruling "allows the state to prohibit Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood in all other circumstances." He said, "It is my intent to direct (the [state] Department of Human Services) to prohibit funding to Planned Parenthood consistent with the court's ruling" (AP/Modern Healthcare, 10/3).

In her ruling, Baker wrote that "the threat of irreparable harm to the Jane Does, and the public interest, outweighs the immediate interests and potential injuries to (the state)." However, Baker held that Planned Parenthood lacked standing and that the women were suing as individuals, not as representatives of a class of women. AP/Modern Healthcare reports that Planned Parenthood is considering options for returning to court soon and pursuing an expansion of Baker's injunction (AP/Modern Healthcare, 10/3).

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland CEO Suzanna de Baca said, "Governor Hutchinson's order to cancel Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contract is illegal and it does not reflect the values of Arkansans who care about women's health," adding, "Our doors are open, we are here for our patients, and we will continue to do everything we can to uphold our patients' right to safe, quality, compassionate care at Planned Parenthood" (AP/Modern Healthcare, 10/3).

Utah To Continue Sending Federal Funding To Planned Parenthood Through Year's End

In related news, Utah officials on Friday said Planned Parenthood would continue to receive federal funds from the state through the remainder of 2015, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/2).

Background

Following the release of the CMP videos, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) ordered the state Department of Health to stop distributing federal funding to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. In response, Planned Parenthood filed suit against Herbert, asking a federal judge to rule that the governor's orders violate Planned Parenthood's constitutional rights to due process and free speech.

In September, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups issued a temporary restraining order on Herbert's decision through Oct. 15, ruling that Herbert's actions seem "to have been made on unconstitutional grounds" because there have been no allegations that Planned Parenthood of Utah broke any laws. Further, Waddoups agreed with Planned Parenthood's arguments that cutting off the organization's federal funding would curb women's access to reproductive health care, particularly among low-income women (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/30).

Latest Developments

Tom Hudachko, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health, said the contracts that the state aimed to cancel or let expire will continue through the end of the year. According to Hudachko, the state is complying with the earlier restraining order and extending it through the end of 2015 to avoid making multiple court appearances.

PPAU CEO Karrie Galloway said she is pleased with the latest development. PPAU attorneys have said the governor was following a personal and political agenda.

Meanwhile, Herbert's spokesperson, Aimee Edwards, said the governor still plans to cut the funding for the organization (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/2).