Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Issues Ruling to Protect Arizonans' Freedom to Choose Their Health Care Provider
PHOENIX – Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with Planned Parenthood Arizona that a state law eliminating health care providers who provide safe and legal abortion from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) violates federal law and could make it harder for many women to access preventive health care services.
Planned Parenthood’s case was 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 other Court of Appeals to consider this argument, the Seventh Circuit, blocked a similar effort by Indiana, and the Supreme Court recently declined to review that decision.
Planned Parenthood Arizona provides birth control, breast health services, Pap tests, testing and treatment of STDs, and other prevention-oriented health care services to more than 60,000 patients, including 3,000 Medicaid patients.
Statement from Bryan Howard, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Arizona:
“This is a victory for the thousands of low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood for breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and other basic health care. Politics should never interfere with a woman’s access to vital services just because she is poor. Several courts had already spoken on this issue; we were confident the appeals court would rule in favor of our patients.
“For nearly 80 years, Arizonans have relied on Planned Parenthood to provide them with the care they want and need – expert, quality prevention care. Our health centers are open today and they will be open tomorrow.”
Today’s ruling invalidates a law signed by Governor Jan Brewer on May 4, 2012 that bars abortion providers from participating in the state’s Medicaid program. In July 2012, Planned Parenthood Arizona filed a lawsuit to block enforcement of the law. A federal district court preliminarily enjoined the law, agreeing that Planned Parenthood was likely to succeed on its claim that the law violates the Medicaid law, which guarantees enrollees the freedom to choose their health care provider.
While that ruling was on appeal, in February 2013, the district court granted Planned Parenthood Arizona’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the defunding law does violate federal Medicaid law. A final injunction was issued February 22.
The court’s two rulings were consolidated on appeal and were argued to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on June 12, 2013.
Other state efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have been blocked by federal courts in Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina and Tennessee.
In the community for 79 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.