Arizona Won’t Enforce Law Defunding Abortion Providers

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Arizona Won’t Enforce Law Defunding Abortion Providers

Nicole Knight

The GOP-backed law imposed a new hurdle on abortion clinics. It allowed the director of the state Medicaid program, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, to exclude any facility that fails “to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Arizona has placed a temporary hold on a 2016 law intended to kick abortion providers out of the state’s Medicaid program.

Local media reported this week that attorneys for the state agreed not to enforce the law, HB 2599, until final rules are in place outlining how the law would work. The attorneys are heeding an order signed September 6 by U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn O. Silver.

The GOP-backed law imposed a new hurdle on abortion clinics. It allowed the state’s Medicaid agency, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, to exclude any facility that fails “to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

In July, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued in federal court to block the law, but both have now agreed to drop the suit until the new state Medicaid rules are in place.

Arizona Assistant Attorney General Rusty Crandell said it may take up to two years to craft rules to implement the law, as Capitol Media Services reported.

Jodi Liggett, vice president of public affairs with Planned Parenthood of Arizona, said in a phone interview with Rewire that “it’s important for the agency to articulate how in the world an entity would comply with this law. We look forward to participating in the public input rule-making process.”

Between June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015, Planned Parenthood of Arizona provided more than 45,000 “family-planning visits,” approximately 5,000 of which were for Medicaid patients, according to a court filing.

2015 report from the Congressional Budget Office indicated that health-care access would suffer under Planned Parenthood funding cuts, with the potential for $650 million in additional state Medicaid spending over a decade and thousands of more births.

Arizona’s state Medicaid program does not pay for most abortion care. Although a court order requires the state to pay for medically necessary abortion care for Medicaid enrollees, the Guttmacher Institute reports that it does not do so. Arizona also prohibits policies sold in state insurance marketplaces from covering abortion care.