Planned Parenthood Seeks to Halt State Denial of Medicaid Funds

Jan 22, 2014

Planned Parenthood is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block a last-ditch effort by the state to cut off its Medicaid funds. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Both state and federal law already prohibit public funds for elective abortions. But, in 2012 the Legislature voted to deny family-planning dollars to Planned Parenthood, saying that amounts to indirect subsidies. A trial judge and the 9th Circuit both rebuffed that argument, so Attorney General Tom Horne last year asked the high court to intervene. Late Tuesday attorney Alice Clapman told the justices that Arizona, in accepting federal dollars — the feds pay 90 percent of family planning costs — agreed to be bound by federal rules.

“So in this area, when we’re talking about Medicaid funds, there is no role for them to impose external policy preferences on providers. They have to follow the Medicaid Act. And the Medicaid Act is clear that patients get to choose their own providers,” Clapman said.

Horne acknowledged Arizona did enter into a contract with the feds. But, he said that was based on a presumption the state could decide who gets funded. But, Clapman said the freedom-of-choice provision has been in law for decades. And, she said if that wasn’t obvious in 2012, it should be obvious to lawmakers and Horne now. She noted the U.S. Supreme Court refused just last year to reinstate a similar Indiana law.