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Health

Hearing Delayed In Planned Parenthood Lawsuit Over Kansas’ Cutoff Of Medicaid Funds

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Elana Gordon
/
KCUR
Kansas' decision to terminate Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood's regional affiliates has now been postponed for at least two weeks.

A court hearing in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Kansas’ cutoff of Medicaid funds to two Planned Parenthood affiliates has been canceled at the state’s request.

The hearing, originally scheduled for this morning, was to take up Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order blocking the state’s action.

Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, the lead plaintiff in the case, said the state had asked that the hearing be postponed after it retained an outside law firm and agreed to temporarily suspend its decision.

“The state decided to stay the termination (of Medicaid funding) until May 24,” she said. “The main takeaway from this is that there’s clearly no safety risk or public health emergency.”

A call to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the agency that made the decision to terminate Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding, was not immediately returned. The agency’s administrator, Susan Mosier, is the sole defendant in the case.

The state has retained Thompson Ramsdell Qualseth & Warner, a Lawrence law firm that has defended the state in other matters, including a pending challenge to Kansas’ ban of the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation.

Planned Parenthood’s two regional affiliates, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region, sued Mosier on Wednesday, a day after her agency notified them of its intention to end their participation in Kansas’ Medicaid program.

The agency cited noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations, noncompliance with its Medicaid provider agreement and “unethical or unprofessional conduct.”

The two Planned Parenthood affiliates fired back in their lawsuit, saying the agency’s decision was politically motivated and made at the instigation of Gov. Sam Brownback, an outspoken abortion opponent who has accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue for profit.

An investigation by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts found no merit to the accusation.

The cutoff of Medicaid funding will leave as many as 500 Planned Parenthood patients at risk of losing health care services, according to the affiliates’ lawsuit. The suit seeks class-action status on behalf of those patients.

Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

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