PHOENIX - Planned Parenthood asked a federal judge Monday to block a new law that would bar it from getting state Medicaid funds.
The complaint says the Legislature illegally approved a measure denying funding from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to any organization that also provides abortions. It asks Judge Neil Wake to prohibit Arizona from enacting the law as scheduled on Aug. 2 and, eventually, to declare it void and unenforceable.
There was no immediate response from state officials. But Rep. Justin Olson, R-Mesa, who crafted the measure, said it is needed to protect the tax dollars of those who oppose abortion.
Olson acknowledged a federal judge struck down a similar effort in Texas. But he said there are key differences between that law and the one approved here.
Although the law already prohibits Medicaid funding for abortions, Olson said money Planned Parenthood receives for other services could be used to underwrite abortion costs.
Planned Parenthood has more than 66,000 patient visits a year for services including pap smears, breast exams, contraceptives, and tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases. It also provides abortions at five of its 13 Arizona sites.
Attorneys for Planned Parenthood said federal Medicaid laws entitle patients to receive services "from the qualified, willing provider of their choice."
They also contend the law illegally interferes in contracts Planned Parenthood has with other health-care organizations that receive AHCCCS funds. That is because AHCCCS does not contract directly with Planned Parenthood - or with most other direct health-care providers - but instead works with health-care groups that act like insurance companies. The state pays these groups a flat fee for providing care.
The suit also was filed on behalf of three women whose names were not disclosed. The lawsuit says they are AHCCCS patients who want to continue to get care at local Planned Parenthood centers.