Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is in the midst of making his second attempt at convincing the U.S. Supreme Court at gutting Medicaid funding for the state’s Planned Parenthood program. Horne wants to do this because the “organization also provides abortions with private dollars.”

Originally, the state of Arizona passed H.B. 2800, which contained provisions that cut reimbursements for birth control, cancer screenings, STD treatments, and women’s exams. Many of the clinics, over 80 in Arizona, that offered these services also performed abortions. However, after the bill became state law, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law unconstitutional and could not be upheld by the state.

The court’s opinion was based on the notion that although state law prohibits state and federal funds paying for abortions, overall, HB 2800 violated federal Medicaid mandates in that it “limits patients’ options when choosing a doctor.”

According to Judge Marsha Berzon, “Federal law allows those enrolled in Medicaid, which includes the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, to get the services they need from any qualified provider.” She continued in asserting that “there is no evidence that Planned Parenthood medical staffers are not ‘qualified.’”

There is an apparent clashing in the interpretations of the federal Medicaid law. Horne seems to misunderstanding the provisions of the law when he said “Arizona agreed to participate in the Medicaid program with the understanding that the state – and not the federal government – would be free decide who is qualified to provide family planning services.”

States do not have the power to decide who qualifies and who doesn’t for Medicaid.

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Bryan Howard, said that his company has seen a hard battle with this law and that the state of Arizona has unnecessarily dumped thousands in litigation costs.

“This litigation has already cost the state of Arizona approximately $279,000 in legal fees alone, which is what it would cost for Arizona to provide clinical breast exams or cervical cancer screenings to thousands of . . . patients.” He continued in saying that “It will cost the state even more to litigate its petition to the Supreme Court.”     

Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.