Debate Over Ariz. Medicaid Expansion Draws Amendment To Block Planned Parenthood Funding

April 1, 2013 — A conservative Arizona lobbying group is seeking to attach an amendment to Gov. Jan Brewer's (R) Medicaid expansion plan that would prohibit Planned Parenthood of Arizona from receiving public funds, the Arizona Republic reports.

Brewer's proposal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) has put her at odds with state conservatives who oppose the ACA. According to the Republic, the governor's plan has enough Democratic and Republican support to pass in the Senate, but the vote remains close in the House.

The amendment takes an approach similar to a law Brewer signed last year that cut off funding to groups that provide abortions. A judge has blocked the state from enforcing the law.

In a letter to Brewer last week, Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod argued that the governor's Medicaid expansion plan would indirectly support abortions at PPAZ clinics. "Any dollar that goes to an abortion provider for any service frees up another dollar to subsidize abortion," Herrod wrote.

However, Planned Parenthood said it loses money on every Medicaid patient because of low reimbursement levels. Further, federal and state laws already bar the use of public funds for abortions, except in cases of rape and incest or if a woman's life is at risk.

Amendment Could Jeopardize Medicaid Expansion Votes

Democrats have cautioned that they might withhold support for Brewer's expansion plan if it draws too many unrelated amendments. House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D) said, "We're not going to just vote for Medicaid if the governor and the GOP are also hurting us and hurting the future of the state with other policy measures."

Meanwhile, Ron Johnson -- executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference -- said Republicans who are undecided on the expansion plan might hinge their decision on the CAP amendment. "There's a case to be made that it actually picks up votes by having that kind of language," he said (Reinhart, Arizona Republic, 3/28).