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Ariz. Gov. Shifts Stance on Planned Parenthood Restrictions Under Medicaid Expansion

Ariz. Gov. Shifts Stance on Planned Parenthood Restrictions Under Medicaid Expansion

May 6, 2013 —In a reversal, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) on Thursday said she would support an amendment to her Medicaid expansion plan that would prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving funds through the program, the Arizona Daily Sun reports.

Last year, a federal judge blocked a similar measure because federal law entitles Medicaid beneficiaries to receive care from any qualified provider. Supporters of the new amendment believe it is crafted in a way to avoid conflicts with the judge's ruling. The amendment would ban the use of state funds to directly or indirectly subsidize abortion services, including funding that could support administrative expenses such as rent, employee salaries and utilities.

Last month, citing the court ruling, Brewer said battles over abortion would not sidetrack her Medicaid expansion plan, which would add about 300,000 people to the state's program.

Her change of position comes after the conservative Center for Arizona Policy waged a campaign arguing that the expansion plan would indirectly fund abortions. As a result, some Republican state legislators dropped their support of the expansion, which left Brewer short on votes needed to pass it.

Opposition

State House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D) warned Brewer that any attempt "to appease the Center for Arizona Policy and their right wing allies" could result in Democrats not voting for her Medicaid expansion plan. The amendment could prevent some hospitals from receiving Medicaid funding because they perform abortions, he said.

Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood of Arizona, said the new amendment is not very different from the measure the judge struck down. "The court was very clear that legislative initiatives to exclude otherwise qualified health care providers from serving patients under Medicaid solely because they provide abortions is against the law" (Fischer, Arizona Daily Sun, 5/3).