Arkansas again cuts off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas has again cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, the state's Department of Human Services said Monday, following a court ruling upholding the state's decision to defund the group over videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group

DHS spokeswoman Amy Webb said the state terminated the group's status as a Medicaid provider last week after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision formally took effect.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson terminated Arkansas' Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood in 2015. The panel in August vacated a federal judge's preliminary injunction that prevented Arkansas from suspending Medicaid payments for services rendered to patients in the state, and the full court earlier this month said it would not reconsider that decision.

Planned Parenthood said it had not decided whether to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Planned Parenthood Great Plains remains committed to serving our patients regardless of their ability to pay while we continue fighting to protect the right of Arkansas women and families to access critical health care services," Aaron Samulcek, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said in a statement. "Every individual ought to have the freedom to choose their health care provider and for many in Arkansas, that choice is Planned Parenthood Great Plains."

The state has said Planned Parenthood received $51,000 in Medicaid funds in the fiscal year before Hutchinson's decision to terminate the contract. None of the money paid for abortions. Planned Parenthood operates health centres in Fayetteville and Little Rock.

Republican lawmakers and governors around the country targeted the organization after several videos were released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress. The centre said the videos showed that Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood said the videos were heavily edited and denied seeking any payments beyond legally permitted reimbursement of costs. A Texas grand jury that looked into the videos cleared Planned Parenthood of misusing fetal tissue.

Planned Parenthood had said a review of the Arkansas case by the full appeals court was needed because the panel's ruling conflicts with four other appeals court decisions.

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Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo


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