health care

Shutterstock

The director of the federal Medicaid program has fired a broadside over efforts in Arizona and other state legislatures to block funding for Planned Parenthood.

Vikki Wachino's Tuesday letter to state Medicaid agencies in all 50 states strongly reminded them that they cannot cut funding to otherwise qualified medical providers just because they might also provide abortion services.

Wachino said the "free choice of provider" provision in federal Medicaid law bars such actions.

Arizona lawmakers have advanced three measures targeting abortion providers after hearings in the Arizona Senate.

Republican Sen. Nancy Barto's Senate Bill 1474 also was sent to the full Senate on Wednesday. It makes it illegal for an abortion provider to sell or otherwise transfer a human fetus or embryo for use in research. Planned Parenthood of Arizona says it doesn't have a fetal tissue-donation program.

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters/Newscom

About a third of the Arizonans who bought health insurance on the federal marketplace for 2015 will have to find a new provider following action by state insurance regulators to suspend the state's nonprofit insurance co-op's ability to sell new policies.

The suspension of Meritus Health Partners means about 59,000 people will need new insurance.

The percentage of adult Arizonans who smoke continues to drop.

The Arizona Department of Health Services says the percentage of smokers as of 2014 was at an all-time low of 15.3 percent. That's down a percentage point from the rate in 2013.

Tobacco prevention and cessation programs head Courtney Ward says the decrease continues a trend. She says factors behind that trend include an ongoing anti-tobacco media campaign and a 2007 tobacco tax increase approved by voters.

The number of abortions reported in Arizona is down.

A state report says there were 12,900 reported abortions performed in Arizona in 2014. That's down 3.7 percent from the 13,401 reported abortions performed in 2013 in Arizona.

About three-quarters of the abortions performed in 2014 involved surgical procedures, while the remainder used a medication-induced procedure.

Pages