August 23, 2013 — A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a lower court's ruling that struck down an Arizona law (HB 2800) barring organizations that provide abortions from participating in the state's Medicaid program, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/22).
Although the state's Medicaid program does not cover abortions except in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity, the law blocked Medicaid beneficiaries from receiving family planning or other services from providers that also offer abortions (Dolan, "Nation Now," Los Angeles Times, 8/22).
In February, U.S. District Judge Neil Wake struck down the law because it "violates the freedom of choice provision of the [federal] Medicaid Act precisely because every Medicaid beneficiary has the right to select any qualified health care provider" (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/14).
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the permanent injunction, agreeing that the law violates federal rules that give patients the right to choose qualified doctors and clinics (Gullo, Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/22).
In the ruling, Judge Marsha Berzon wrote that the Arizona law's "purpose is to exclude concededly qualified medical providers from eligibility for public funds unless they decline to perform elective abortions" ("Nation Now," Los Angeles Times, 8/22).
In a statement, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said, "Over and over again, courts have said that states cannot block people from getting preventive health care at Planned Parenthood, and the vast majority of the American public agrees." She added, "All women, no matter where they live, should be able to get quality, affordable health care from the health care provider they know and trust" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/22).