FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX– Today the House Appropriations Committee passed a strike-everything amendment in order to introduce new restrictions to women's health care late in the legislative session. The amendment will impose new burdens on low-income women seeking family planning health care and all women seeking abortion heath care.
For the fifth year in a row, such legislation has been introduced with this year's attempt not only attacking women, but also putting a wedge into the Medicaid expansion discussion in the House.
One provision of Senate Bill 1069, is yet another attempt to prevent qualified health care providers who also provide abortion from serving low-income women under the state Medicaid program. This restriction directly violates federal Medicaid rules and likely violates a court injunction that prevented implementation of a similar restriction in 2012.
The second provision sets the stage to harass women seeking abortion care by allowing "snap" searches and inspections of abortion-providing health centers. The Arizona Department of Health Services already has the ability to conduct comprehensive inspections in the event that there is evidence of health and safety risks or for purposes of compliance and licensing.
Statement from Bryan Howard, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona
"Politics should never interfere with a woman's access to preventive health care just because she is poor. The courts have ruled that states cannot tell a woman where she can and cannot go for health care under Medicaid.
"Arizona abortion providers already provide care under an enormous framework of rules and inspections that is more comprehensive and detailed than that which is imposed on any other class of health care provider. No other type of care is more scrutinized and discussed on the legislative level.
"It is disappointing that extreme legislators are focusing on a redundant discussion that was already dismissed by the Governor at the beginning of this session. Now is the time to focus on strengthening our health care system and expanding access to 300,000 Arizonans."
In July, Planned Parenthood Arizona challenged in federal court a state law intended to "defund" Planned Parenthood Arizona and block 3,000 AHCCCS enrollees from the women's health care provider they currently rely on. A federal court issued an order suspending implementation and enforcement of the law in August. In October, the court ruled in favor of PPAZ, preventing the state from enforcing the law.
Planned Parenthood's case is primarily based on a federal statute that protects Medicaid beneficiaries' freedom to select the qualified medical provider of their own choosing. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services has stated repeatedly that states cannot limit a Medicaid beneficiary's ability to choose a family planning provider based on the scope of services provided. The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently affirmed an injunction against a similar effort by Indiana to exclude abortion providers from the Medicaid Program; the same litigation was taken to the Supreme Court and was denied a hearing. Other efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have been blocked by federal courts in Kansas, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The Arizona Department of Health Services provided a report in May in response to Congress' request information regarding licensing and inspection of abortion providers in the state of Arizona. The report shows the department's comprehensive inspection and licensing history of such providers. You can find a full copy of the report here: http://www.azdhs.gov/als/medical/documents/abortion-record-request-reponse.pdf
Last year, Planned Parenthood Arizona provided more than 9,400 Pap tests, 16,200 tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, more than 33,700 breast exams and 85,400 contraceptives to all its patients.
President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona Bryan Howard presented remarks at today's House Appropriations Committee. Those remarks were also submitted for public record in opposition of the strike-everything amendment. You can read his full statement here.
In the community for 78 years, Planned Parenthood Arizona is the leading sexual health organization in Arizona. The organization provides health care, education and outreach services to more than 90,000 men, women, teens and parents annually. Planned Parenthood Arizona operates health center locations statewide in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott Valley and Yuma. For more information, please visit www.ppaz.org.