At a teleconference yesterday, Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, spoke to reporters about the federal court litigation filed this week to challenge the legality of House Bill 2800. Signed into law by Governor Brewer on May 5, this bill disqualified Planned Parenthood from being an AHCCCS provider because they provide safe and legal abortions.
The litigation is based on a federal statute that protects Medicaid beneficiaries’ freedom to choose the qualified medical provider of their own choosing. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have stated repeatedly that states cannot limit a Medicaid beneficiary’s ability to choose a family planning provider based on the scope of services provided. A law virtually identical to HB 2800 has been enjoined by a federal court in Indiana, and similar efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have been blocked by federal courts in Kansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
“It is wrong for the state to tell Arizonans who they can and cannot see for their health care. The men and women of this state have the right to see the health care provider they deem is best for them,” says Bryan Howard, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Arizona. “We are confident that the federal court will agree and grant an injunction to prevent this harmful law from going into effect.”
Each year, Planned Parenthood Arizona provides more than 66,000 patient visits, nearly 3,000 of which are Medicaid patients. Three of these patients are also plaintiffs supporting the case.
“I do not know where else I could go if not to Planned Parenthood, and—between my job and my four kids—I do not even know if I will have the time to look,” said Jane Doe #1 of Yuma. “Planned Parenthood’s staff was warm and friendly, and made sure we had privacy to discuss our questions and concerns. Planned Parenthood managed to make my 18-year-old daughter feel comfortable even though this was her first time receiving family planning care.”
Last year, Planned Parenthood Arizona provided more than 9,400 pap tests, over 16,200 tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, more than 33,700 breast exams, 136 HPV immunizations, and more than 85,400 contraceptives.
“It is unfortunate that our state and its lawmakers continue to put ideology and politics before the welfare of Arizonans,” continues Howard. “Women and men who come to Planned Parenthood aren’t making a political statement, they are coming to the get the health care they need from the provider they choose.”
Howard added, “This law does not affect Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide its expert reproductive care to the community. Women and men will be able to continue to receive life-saving cancer screenings, annual reproductive exams, STD testing and treatment, and birth control at all of the organization’s health centers across Arizona. We’re here for Arizonans.”
Planned Parenthood Arizona is being represented in this litigation by attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Photo from splitpeasoup2009 via flickr.
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