KS P. Parenthood Seeks Cutoff Block

KS P. Parenthood Seeks Cutoff Block

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Planned Parenthood attorneys are asking a federal judge to prevent Kansas from cutting off Medicaid funding for the organization, arguing that the state is attempting to punish its affiliates for providing abortions.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson was having a hearing Tuesday in a lawsuit filed last month by two Planned Parenthood affiliates against the state health department's top administrator. The agency plans to cut off funding July 7 for services such as health exams and cancer screenings provided to poor Kansas residents whose health coverage is provided by the state's Medicaid program.

Robinson will decide whether to block the department's action while the lawsuit proceeds. Federal courts have blocked attempts to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood in other states, including Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana and Utah.

In a court filing Monday, Planned Parenthood attorneys argued that Kansas is acting based on its "animus" toward the organization.

Attorneys for department Secretary Susan Mosier argued in court documents last week that it would premature for Robinson to act because the state hasn't formally cut off Medicaid funding.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is a vocal abortion opponent, and the state already has blocked Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri from receiving federal family planning dollars for non-abortion services. The affiliate provides both surgical and medication abortions at its clinic in Overland Park and began in March providing the abortion pill at its Wichita clinic. Medicaid money isn't used to fund abortions.

Planned Parenthood's St. Louis-area affiliate is also involved in the lawsuit because its clinic in Joplin, Missouri, serves some Kansas patients.

The health department notified Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri last month that Medicaid funding would be cut off, citing in part dispute over an inspection of the Overland Park clinic that was later resolved. The health department also has pointed to allegations lodged against affiliates in Oklahoma and Texas.

Kansas initially planned to cut off Medicaid funding on May 10, but delayed the action three times after the lawsuit was filed.

(KA)