LITTLE ROCK – Today, in an extreme departure from every prior court to consider the issue, the the U.S. Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit issued a ruling that would allow a dangerous law to take effect that would block access to care for Arkansas Medicaid patients who rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and other preventive health care. Today’s decision does not go into effect immediately. Planned Parenthood is evaluating all options to ensure our patients can continue to get the care they need at our health centers.
To date, seven other states (Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) have sought to bar Planned Parenthood from Medicaid and all have been blocked by federal courts. This has been affirmed by every other circuit court to consider the issue (the Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth). Most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Fifth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision to block Louisiana’s attempt to terminate the Planned Parenthood provider there from Medicaid.
Governor Asa Hutchinson sought to cut off care at Planned Parenthood, citing claims made by an anti-abortion group in heavily edited and thoroughly discredited videos. To date, thirteen states have concluded investigations into claims that Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue donation and officials in each one have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing; another eight states have declined to launch investigations, citing lack of evidence to substantiate claims of wrongdoing. A grand jury convened to look at Planned Parenthood in Texas found that Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong.
“Let me be clear, Medicaid patients deserve the right to choose their doctors and nurses, just like any other insured patient in our health care system. PPGP health centers in Fayetteville and Little Rock will continue serving Medicaid patients while we find a path to affirm our patients’ rights to access health care when and where they need it. PPGP will leave no stone unturned,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains Interim President and CEO, Aaron Samulcek said.
“This is not over. We will do everything in our power to protect our patients' access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other lifesaving care. Extreme politicians are trying to defund and shut down Planned Parenthood — and this is not what Americans want. Every person deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy life and access care at a provider they know and trust, no matter who you are or where you live,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley said.
PPGP provides birth control, life-saving cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and other preventive care to nearly 4,500 patients in Arkansas each year; and a significant number of these patients in Arkansas receive this care through Medicaid. There is already an unmet need for health care in Arkansas. In 2014, 204,850 women in Arkansas were in need of publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies.
As one patient -- a plaintiff in the case and mother of one in Little Rock wrote in her declaration to the court: "I work for a family business with my mom and step-dad; however, the business is not able to provide health insurance. ... Currently I am using hormonal contraception, which I need both for birth control and for help with my severe cramps and history of ovarian cysts. … Planned Parenthood is my only medical provider; I don't have a general physician. If I could no longer get reproductive health services at Planned Parenthood, I do not know where I would go or what I would do. I want to continue to get my care at Planned Parenthood, but if they could no longer accept Medicaid I could not afford to pay for these services out of pocket."
Nationwide, Planned Parenthood health centers serve an outsized role in meeting the health care needs of those who rely on federally funded health programs. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers across the U.S. are in rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care. In 57 percent of counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, Planned Parenthood serves at least half of all safety-net family planning patients. Those hurt the most would be those struggling to get by and also those who already face barriers to accessing health care — especially people of color, people with low to moderate incomes, as well as people who live in rural areas.
Not only is it dangerous to block care at Planned Parenthood -- it’s also deeply unpopular. Every poll shows that American people overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood and strongly oppose these attacks.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood affiliates serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.