Arizona cannot cut Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program simply because the organization also provides abortions with other funds, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.Federal law states that those enrolled in Medicaid may get services from any qualified provider; the 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit unanimously determined that the Arizona law in question, HB 2800, added improper restrictions. Judge Marsha Berzon was scathing in her opinion:
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Arizona lawmakers acted illegally last year in tying the Medicaid dollars for family planning services to a requirement for Planned Parenthood to stop doing abortions. The judges, in a 32-page ruling, said legislators acted contrary to federal law.
“Arizona has never claimed that Planned Parenthood staff doctors are unqualified to perform gynecological exams or STD testing,” she wrote. In fact, Berzon pointed out, HB 2800 “made clear that if Planned Parenthood agreed to stop performing privately funded elective abortions, it could continue providing all of its other services at public expense.” […]HB 2800 was signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last year amid the usual Arizona Republican indifference as to whether any of it was actually legal. This is no doubt not the end of this particular push, but the decision represents a major blow to state efforts to single out and punish abortion providers.
She said if the court were to accept Arizona's argument that abortion providers are not qualified, then another state could contend that only doctors who do perform abortions are entitled to Medicaid funding. Similarly, it would open the door to letting states decide that Medicaid services could be provided only by osteopaths, non-smokers or affiliates of the state's medical school “on the grounds that only doctors within that category are worth of receiving Medicaid funds.”