Planned Parenthood|Sues Arizona

     PHOENIX (CN) – A new Arizona law unconstitutionally bars from the state Medicaid program clinics that provide abortion services, Planned Parenthood claims in Federal Court.
     House Bill 2800states that Arizona “may not enter into a contract with or make a grant to any person that performs nonfederally qualified abortions or maintains or operates a facility where nonfederally qualified abortions are performed for the provision of family planning services.”
     Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law on May 4, to take effect Aug. 2.
     “It is wrong for the state to tell Arizonans who they can and cannot see for their health care. The men and women of this state have the right to see the health care provider they deem is best for them,” said Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona. “We are confident that the federal court will agree and grant an injunction to prevent this harmful law from going into effect,” Howard said in a statement.
     The law “disqualifies from eligibility to participate in Arizona’s Medicaid program any entity or individual who provides abortions except in narrowly defined circumstances,” according to Planned Parenthood.
     The lawsuit claims the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCS) — Arizona’s Medicaid — issued instructions on or about June 25 “requiring all AHCCCS medical providers to attest that they do not provide abortions outside the limited circumstances indicated” by Aug. 2.
     If providers fail to provide “this attestation,” the medical provider will no longer be eligible “to provide and receive reimbursement for medical services to patients enrolled in Medicaid,” the complaint states.
     By “barring PPAZ from the Medicaid program, [the law] prevents PPAZ’s patients from receiving services from the qualified, willing provider of their choice.”
     Unless the law is enjoined or unless Planned Parenthood Arizona “were to cease providing abortions (except under the narrow circumstances allowed under the Medicaid program), it will no longer be able to provide reproductive healthcare services to approximately 3,000 Medicaid patients,” the complaint states.
     “Arizona taxpayers have spoken through their elected representatives – they do not want their tax dollars going to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which performs more than 330,000 abortions a year,” Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. “The Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act is pro-woman legislation that recognizes that women deserve access to comprehensive health care, not abortion. We are confident that the will of the people not to fund the abortion industry will prevail in court.”
     Planned Parenthood says it has been a Medicaid services provider for decades in Arizona and performs abortions, including those that will “disqualify PPAZ from continued eligibility to participate in the Medicaid program.”
     Planned Parenthood seeks declaratory judgment that the law “violates the Supremacy Clause because it imposes restrictions on eligibility for Medicaid funds that are in excess of and inconsistent with restrictions and requirements established by the federal government for receipt of these funds.”
     It also seeks judgment that the law “imposes an unconstitutional condition in violation of the Due Process Clause because it disqualifies PPAZ from participation in the Medicaid program based on its provision of abortion outside the program.”
     The law “violates the Equal Protection Clause because it distinguishes, without adequate justification, between family planning providers who provide abortion outside the Medicaid program and those who do not,” and it violates “the Contracts Clause because it impairs PPAZ’s contractual relationships with the state’s managed care contractors and the contractual obligations contained therein,” according to the complaint.
     Named as defendants are Tom Betlach, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, and Attorney General Tom Horne.
     Planned Parenthood’s lead counsel is Lawrence Rosenfeld with Greenberg Traurig.

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