National Partnership for Women & Families

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KentuckyOne Health ends transfer agreement with Planned Parenthood

KentuckyOne Health rescinded a patient transfer agreement with Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK), citing pressure from undisclosed sources, according to an attorney for PPINK, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports (Yetter, Louisville Courier-Journal, 3/3).

Background

Earlier this year, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) ordered PPINK to stop offering abortion care at the Louisville clinic. In a January letter to the organization, acting state Inspector General Stephanie Hold alleged that PPINK's new facility did not comply with state licensing standards. Hold said the state's Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) found that the clinic's license application does not include a written agreement with an ambulance service and a hospital, as required by the state.

PPINK stated that it had applied for a license and "commenced services under the guidance of [OIG], the cabinet office that is responsible for licensing health facilities." PPINK also released records showing it received authorization from former Gov. Steve Beshear's (D) administration to provide the procedure (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/4).

In February, Bevin's administration launched a lawsuit against PPINK over the licensing matter (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/19).

Latest developments

PPINK recently submitted a transfer agreement to CHFS that listed the University of Louisville Hospital, which is managed by KentuckyOne. Thomas Clay, an attorney for PPINK, said state health officials refused to accept transfer agreement documents that did not specify a hospital by name.

However, according to Clay, KentuckyOne President and CEO Ruth Brinkley informed PPINK on Tuesday that the health care system was rescinding the transfer agreement between the clinic and the hospital. In addition to citing "incredible" outside pressure from unnamed sources, Brinkley said she had concerns that maintaining the transfer agreement could compromise public funding for the hospital and the university.

Barbara Mackovic, a spokesperson for KentucyOne, noted that termination of the contract will not prevent the hospital from providing emergency care to patients who come to the hospital. "No patient will be turned away," she said.

Response

Clay said PPINK is "exploring every legal option we've got" to address the canceled contract, including trying to identify the unnamed sources and determining whether Bevin's administration played a role in the decision. According to Steve Pitt, general counsel for Bevin, the administration was not involved in KentuckyOne's decision.

Clay said, "University Hospital has reneged on this agreement ... This was strictly a result of outside pressure." Citing the unnamed sources, he added, "They are engaged in surreptitious conduct obviously designed to thwart Planned Parenthood's goal of obtaining a license ... It remains to be seen if those efforts will be successful."

Separately, Derek Selznick, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said the move to terminate the contract was "ridiculous." He noted, "We fully support Planned Parenthood in these efforts," adding, "It's unfortunate that somebody's using a bully pulpit to interfere with medical decisions of the hospital."

Beverly Glascock, a Louisville attorney, noted that Catholic Health Initiatives is KentuckyOne's majority owner. According to Glascock, KentuckyOne finalized its deal with the university hospital only after pledging that its affiliation with a Catholic health organization would not affect women's health services at the hospital. "In rescinding its agreement with Planned Parenthood, KentuckyOne has done just what it promised this community it wouldn't do and has inappropriately placed an outside political agenda ahead of its community medical mission," Glascock said.

Separately, Clay said he was not sure whether the Catholic affiliation influenced the termination. He said, "As far as I know, Catholic doctrine had nothing to do with cancellation of the contract" (Louisville Courier-Journal, 3/3).