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Kan. submits filings in case challenging move to cut Planned Parenthood from Medicaid

Kansas on Monday revised its approach to cutting Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid program, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Suhr, AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/14).

Background

There are two Planned Parenthood facilities in Kansas, one of which provides abortion care. According to Elise Higgins, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM), the clinics receive about $61,000 in Medicaid funding annually for providing cancer screenings, contraception services and health exams. PPKM provides care for about 450 to 500 Kansas Medicaid beneficiaries, according to the lawsuit.

Following the release last year of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) asked the state medical board to investigate whether abortion providers in Kansas were selling fetal tissue.

PPKM does not have a fetal tissue donation program. In January, the State Board of Healing Arts announced it would not take action against PPKM's clinic in Overland, Kansas, after the board investigated and found no evidence that the organization engaged in improper fetal tissue donation.

Also in January, Brownback ordered the state health secretary to block Planned Parenthood from receiving funding through Medicaid and urged state lawmakers to pass legislation that would make such a policy law. Under a state budget provision approved annually since 2011, Planned Parenthood already is prohibited from receiving federal family planning funding through the Kansas health department.

Kansas defunds Planned Parenthood

In a letter sent on March 10, Kansas officials informed Planned Parenthood that per Brownback's order, the organization's Medicaid provider agreement would be terminated on May 10. The letter alleged several reasons for the contract termination, including failure to comply with provider agreements and state law and regulations, as well as unprofessional behavior and "other good cause."

Specifically, the letter cited the misleading videos last summer targeting the organization. A grand jury in Houston indicted two of the antiabortion-rights activists involved in making the videos.

Planned Parenthood's request to overturn the decision was rejected at an administrative hearing held earlier this year.

Lawsuit details

Planned Parenthood in May filed a federal lawsuit over Kansas' decision to terminate the organization's Medicaid provider agreement, contending that the defunding effort violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit lists as plaintiffs one PPKM doctor, four PPKM nurses, and six former PPKM nurses and midwives who were cut from Medicaid, as well as three unnamed Kansas Medicaid beneficiaries.

The lawsuit followed a letter that CMS in April sent to Medicaid agencies in every state warning them against terminating Medicaid contracts with abortion providers. Federal judges have blocked several state efforts to terminate abortion providers' Medicaid funding (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/5).

Planned Parenthood asked the federal court to block the termination action from taking effect while the lawsuit continues. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson heard oral arguments and indicated she would rule before July 7, when the state is scheduled to end Medicaid funding for the organization.

During arguments, Diana Salgado, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, said the termination violates federal Medicaid law by impeding patients' ability to access care from a qualified provider. Salgado also said Kansas' action was a punitive response to the antiabortion-rights videos and allegations made against Planned Parenthood affiliates in other states (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/8).

Kan. changes course

In a letter filed with Robinson on Monday, the state said it still plans to cut PPKM and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (PPSLR) from participating in the state's Medicaid program, but that it will not seek to exclude the 11 plaintiffs who provide care at the clinics (AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/14).

The letter states that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment "decided to rescind the terminations of the providers." The 11 health care professionals listed as plaintiffs had noted that their exclusion from Medicaid could potentially disqualify them from providing care to up to 500 Medicaid beneficiaries.

The filing suggests the state was aware that its case was not legally sound under a federal requirement establishing Medicaid beneficiaries' right to seek care from their preferred qualified provider, according to KCUR (Margolies, KCUR, 6/14).

In addition, the state on Monday submitted a separate filing asking Robinson to deny Planned Parenthood's request to exclude transcriptions from the misleading videos as possible evidence. Planned Parenthood has said the videos are misleading as well as irrelevant. The organization notes that the footage was heavily edited and that it wrongly ties the regional affiliates to those elsewhere (AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/14).