What hath SCOTUS wrought?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

MedicaidA state legislator in Mississippi says the U.S. Supreme Court may have opened Pandora's Box when it declined this week to hear an appeal from Kansas and Louisiana, both of which want to strip Medicaid money from Planned Parenthood.

On a 6-3 vote Monday, the high court turned away that appeal – and in doing so shocked pro-life groups that had hoped for a decision in their favor that would punish the abortion provider for profiting from the sale of aborted fetal tissue and organs that are used for medical research. Part of that shock revolved around the fact that Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the newest member of the court, joined in the majority.

In his dissenting opinion, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas directly accused fellow justices of refusing to take up the case because Planned Parenthood is involved, implying political motives to protect the group:

"It is true that these particular cases arose after several States alleged that Planned Parenthood affiliates had, among other things, engaged in 'the illegal sale of fetal organs' and 'fraudulent billing practices,' and thus removed Planned Parenthood as a state Medicaid provider," Thomas wrote. "But these cases are not about abortion rights. They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act. Resolving the question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood's ability to challenge the States' decisions."

OneNewsNow spoke with attorney Rachel Busick at Americans United for Life (AUL).

"The issue in the case was a statutory interpretation question, basically whether the Medicaid Act gives this right of action for Medicaid patients to sue in federal court and the states, whenever they can disqualify a provider under their Medicaid program," explains Busick. "The provider has an ability to have a state administrative appeal for that disqualification, and so Planned Parenthood had opportunities to challenge their disqualification in the state administrative proceedings, but they declined to do so and instead hid behind their patients trying to claim that the patients had a right to sue in federal court over this disqualification."

State Senator Angela Hill (R-Mississippi) thinks this was more political than anything else.

"This is not about abortion, this is about contracts," she argues. "This is about whether or not the states have the right to determine who is a Medicaid provider and who is not; and if a citizen who is a Medicaid recipient has a right to sue because they want a certain medical provider in the network, even if they do or don't meet the criteria that the state seems to think they should meet or the federal government seems to think they should meet."

Senator Hill adds there's nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says Medicaid is a constitutional right for anybody.

"This is something that the government decided to do and they passed laws and they funded Medicaid – but now we're in the sticky realm of contracts right now, whether or not someone likes the food that their lunch provider's contracting with or not, or you want to sue because I want you to buy my cousin's food for the school lunch program," she continues. "I mean, this is a Pandora's Box that they've opened."

Mississippi passed a law in recent years saying that any abortion provider or their affiliates would not get Medicaid funding from the state of Mississippi. That law was later struck down by a federal court.

"Unfortunately, this was never appealed in Mississippi," says Hill. "We should have been there with Louisiana and Kansas appealing the ruling because this is a contract dispute."

Mississippi currently sends Medicaid money to at least one state where a Planned Parenthood is in operation.

"I have a listing of some money that's gone out of state into Tennessee and there's probably some that's gone out to Mobile, Alabama, as well, although I didn't ask for those numbers – but there's been around $1,500 per year sent up in the Memphis area to Planned Parenthood from the state of Mississippi Medicaid," Hill explains. "The court said we could not stop that from happening, that we were forced to continue to fund it."

That, says Jameson Taylor, Ph.D. of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, is outrageous. He believes the only option pro-lifers have is for President Trump to work with state governors to make progress on these fronts.

"The states are going to have to continue to lead on pro-life causes," Taylor continues. "They're going to have to continue to send a signal to Washington, congressional Republicans and judges that this is not okay."

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