Federal Judge Kristine Baker has set a hearing at 2 p.m. Thursday on Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the state Department of Human Services from stopping Medicaid reimbursement of Planned Parenthood for medical services.
Under orders from Gov. Asa Hutchinson, DHS stopped payments for Planned Parenthood effective Monday. As a practical matter, Planned Parenthood said in its lawsuit, existing patients won’t be affected based on currently scheduled appointments until Sept. 21.
The lawsuit was filed Fridayon behalf of Jane Doe plaintiffs. It recites federal government and court guidance that this halt of funding is an illegal encroachment on a patient’s choice of medical provider. It also lists the services that will be affected. Not abortion, because only pharmaceutical abortions are performed in Arkansas in the first nine weeks of pregnancy and they are not covered by Medicaid. Not fetal tissue, which is supplied by a couple of Planned Parenthood and affiliates in other states and has become controversial because of misleadingly obtained and edited videos distributed by an anti-abortion group. Not the quality of services.
The governor said only that Planned Parenthood doesn’t represent Arkansas values, whatever those might be. Apparently those values don’t include services that prevent unwanted pregnancy and abortions, at least not when the state of Arkansas wants to stifle the free speech rights of those with which it disagrees. From the lawsuit:
PPH (or predecessor organizations) have provided high quality reproductiv health care in Arkansas for more than thirty years. PPH operates two health centers in Arkansas, one in Little Rock and one in Fayetteville, and participates in the Medicaid program, providing medical services to low-income enrollees in both communities. The family planning and other preventive health services provided by PPH at these and its other health centers include contraception and contraceptive counseling; physical exams; screening for breast cancer; screening and treatment for cervical cancer; testing and treatment for certain sexually transmitted infections (“STis”); pregnancy testing and counseling; men’s health services; and general health services including smoking cessation and screening for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and anemia.
PPH also operates a pharmacy that serves patients in Arkansas. Through this service patients, including patients insured through Medicaid, are able to have their contraception prescriptions automatically refilled and mailed to their homes every month.
In fiscal year (FY) 2015, PPH provided more than 1,000 health care visits and filed more than 1, 100 prescriptions for over 500 women, men and teens insured through Medicaid in Little Rock and Fayetteville. In FY 2014, the numbers were even higher – more than 1600 health care visits and 2,600 prescriptions, for over 1,100 women, men and teens insured through Medicaid in Little Rock and Fayetteville.
During FY 2015, PPH provided over 100 well woman exams (which include breast exams), nearly 100 pap smears, over 350 visits to screen for STis, and over 450 visits for long acting reversible contraceptives (“LARCs”) and injectable contraceptives to its Medicaid patients. During FY 2014, PPH provided over 250 well woman exams, 180 pap smears, 600 visits to screen for STis, and 750 visits for LARCs and injectable contraceptives to its Medicaid