LIGHTS ON: At Planned Parenthood in Little Rock. Brian Chilson

The fight over Arkansas’s attempt to cut off all Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood continues.

On Wednesday, three patients of Planned Parenthood Great Plains — the regional affiliate that includes Arkansas — asked the full U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case. Earlier this month, a panel of three Eighth Circuit judges ruled against the plaintiffs, overturning a lower court’s decision that enjoined Arkansas from blocking the organization’s Medicaid funds.


Governor Hutchinson ordered the state Department of Human Services to terminate its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood in August 2015. In September of that year, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker blocked the state from doing so.

The plaintiffs noted that “other states’ similar efforts to terminate Planned Parenthood providers from Medicaid have, prior to the Panel’s ruling, been universally enjoined.”  Louisiana, Arizona, Indiana, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas all attempted to cut off Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood. “Each was enjoined based on Free Choice of Provider claims brought by Medicaid beneficiaries, like the Doe Plaintiffs here,” the petition states. And in each case, federal appeals courts upheld the injunctions. Not so at the Eighth Circuit:


The Panel, over a dissent, wrote an opinion of sweeping breadth and impact that directly conflicts with four circuits that have addressed the same issue. Unlike the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits, the Panel ruled Medicaid beneficiaries have no private right of action under 42 U.S.C. §1983 to enforce 42 U.S.C. §1396a(a)(23)(A), the Medicaid Act’s “Free Choice of Provider” provision. This conflict with the unanimous precedent of four circuits alone creates a question of exceptional importance warranting en banc review.

Here’s the full petition for rehearing: