Supreme Court

Kansas asks Supreme Court to review decision holding state can’t cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-life Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer

On February 21, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals left in place a lower court injunction preventing Kansas from cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood Great Plains which has two centers in Kansas and three in Missouri.

On Thursday, the state appealed the decision to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for certiorari.

Kansas’ new pro-life governor, Jeff Colyer, issued a statement in which he said

Kansas is a Pro-Life state and Kansans don’t want state dollars being used to support abortion providers…The medical needs of Kansas women will continue to be met by other providers in the Medicaid and KanCare network. We want the Supreme Court to weigh in on this issue and we look forward to the outcome.

The decision by the appeals court left in place U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson’s July 2016 decision. Robinson “wrote that Medicaid patients have ‘the explicit right to seek family planning services from the qualified provider of their choice,’” the Associated Press’s Roxana Hegeman reported.

However, the full 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held that Arkansas could discontinue Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. Differences in appeals courts’ decisions do not guarantee the Supreme Court will take up a case, but it does increase the odds.

When the 10th circuit’s February 21, 2018, decision came down,

Kendall Marr, Gov. Colyer’s spokesman, told news outlets in an email that the administration was studying the decision and “considering further legal options. We will continue the fight for life.”

Mr. Colyer officially became Kansas’ 47th governor on January 31 after Gov. Sam Brownback resigned to take a diplomatic post in the Trump administration.

Background

In May 2016 then-Gov. Brownback issued an executive order that barred Planned Parenthood from being Medicaid providers. As Kansans for Life wrote at the time

This issue is similar to, but different from, the lawsuit Planned Parenthood lost in 2014 to regain Kansas funding as federal Title X providers. The latter– Title X prioritization of full-service public clinics and hospitals –was put permanently into statute last week in the waning days of the Kansas legislative session.

As Dan Margolies reported [http://www.khi.org/news/article/judge-blocks-kansas-effort-to-end-medicaid-funding-for-planned-parenthood] in July 2016, “In a May 3 letter to the affiliates, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment cited three grounds for terminating the Medicaid funding:

  • Video evidence that other Planned Parenthood affiliates entered into illegal agreements to procure fetal tissue after abortions.
  • An alleged failure to comply with solid waste disposal inspections.
  • Concerns about Medicaid claims submitted by other Planned Parenthood affiliates in neighboring states.

In her 54-page decision, Judge Robinson wrote that the Planned Parenthood affiliates were likely to prevail on all three claims.

In its ruling the 10th Circuit panel “said states have broad authority to ensure that Medicaid providers are qualified to provide medical services,” according to Bryan Lowry of the Kansas City Star.

“But this power has limits,” the ruling said. “States may not terminate providers from their Medicaid program for any reason they see fit, especially when that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the healthcare it provides.”

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