NPR, August 16, 2017
Merrit Kennedy


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A federal appeals court has sided with the state of Arkansas against Planned Parenthood, saying it can block Medicaid payments to the medical provider. It reversed earlier injunctions that forbade the state from suspending the money in the wake of a controversial leaked video of Planned Parenthood staff.

That video, leaked by anti-abortion activists, purports to show Planned Parenthood staff outside Arkansas discussing fetal tissue sales. Planned Parenthood has said the tapes are fraudulent and multiple investigations have deemed the allegations as false.

In 2015, citing the video, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson terminated the state's Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood's local affiliate.

Then, three unnamed Planned Parenthood patients sued the director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, saying that it was violating their federal right to choose any qualified provider offering the services they were seeking.

A district court then blocked the state from cutting off payments to Planned Parenthood for these three patients. A second injunction expanded that to an entire class of Medicaid beneficiaries in Arkansas who used Planned Parenthood services.

Today, in a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit vacated those injunctions. U.S. Circuit Judge Steven Colloton wrote that in the provision of the Medicaid Act cited by the plaintiffs, it is not clear that Congress intended to create a judicially-enforceable right for individual patients to choose any qualified provider that offers the services they seek. [...]

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