State keeps up legal fight to strip Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

State keeps up legal fight to strip Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2016 at 4:52 PM

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office has filed for permission to appeal a January order from U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker that granted class certification in the case concerning Gov. Hutchinson's efforts to cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood.

Last month, an order from Judge Baker granted class certification to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland's suit to prevent the governor from stripping the organization of its status as a Medicaid provider in Arkansas. That decision was a crucial step towards Planned Parenthood's attempts to expand the scope of the suit, which as of now only lists three Jane Does as plaintiffs. 

Now, the AG's office is asking for a panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to examine Baker's order granting class certification.

The case originated last August, when Gov. Hutchinson directed the state Department of Human Services to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood. The federal authorities at HHS that administer Medicaid funds have made it very clear that states do not have the authority to do this; qualified health providers can't be excluded from Medicaid because they provide abortions. (And it bears repeating, always, that federal funds can't be spent on abortions directly; any Medicaid money going to Planned Parenthood is used to pay for other medical services.) Hutchinson pressed ahead anyway.

Planned Parenthood filed suit, and in September, Judge Baker granted a temporary restraining order (and then, in October, a preliminary injunction) siding with Planned Parenthood. That prevented the governor from cutting off funds to the provider.

The petition for permission to appeal filed by the AG's office is lengthy (over 100 pages), but here it is:

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