Planned Parenthood v. Betlach

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: 08-22-2013
  • Case #: 12-17558; 13-15506
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Judge Bybee and Senior District Judge Marshall
  • Full Text Opinion

It is a violation of Medicaid’s Free Choice of Provider requirement, to eliminate a patient’s ability to choose a physician based on the fact that the physician provides privately funded abortions in cases other than rape, incest and medical necessity.

Arizona’s House Bill 2800 prevents patients with Medicaid from using health care providers for family planning purposes that perform privately funded abortions in cases other than rape, incest, or medical necessity. Planned Parenthood challenged HB 2800 on the basis that it was a violation of the federal Medicaid Act‘s free-choice-of-provider requirement (42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23)) (the "Act"). The Act requires that states, shall not restrict an individual's ability to choose a qualified family planning provider and that Medicaid recipients shall be allowed to obtain care form any provider who is, “qualified to perform the services required.” The Ninth Circuit held that 42 U.S.C. § 1983 did create a right of action to enforce 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23), the panel then considered if HB 2800 violated 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23). Arizona argued that states should be allowed to determine the criteria to be a qualified provider. The panel disagreed with this interpretation. It interpreted the word ‘qualified’ meaning legally qualified because 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23) does not direct otherwise. The panel held that Arizona’s reading of qualified detached it from the word to which it is attached: medical services which further distorted its meaning. Any provisions relating to waiver of 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23)’s requirements or exclusion of providers refer to their exclusion based on medical or professional incompetency. This does not create provisions for waiver based on any reason that a state may have for exclusion. After considering these factors along with others, and deciding that none of the case law cited by Arizona supported its position, the panel held that HB 2800 did violate Medicaid’s free-choice-of-provider requirement. AFFIRMED and DISMISSED.

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