Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill argues in a Supreme Court amicus brief that states have the legitimate power to deny abortion clinics status as Medicaid providers.
Hill, co-chairing the 19-state brief, is asking the United States Supreme Court to overturn lower court precedents ruling otherwise in a recent 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision. In that decision, the 4th Circuit cited the federal Medicaid Act when it prohibited South Carolina from terminating a Medicaid provider agreement with Planned Parenthood.
“The Medicaid law simply sets out the terms under which states can receive Medicaid reimbursement from the federal government,” Hill said in a statement Wednesday. “This legislation was never intended to restrict the power of states to manage their own Medicaid programs. It was never intended to establish enforceable rights between abortion providers and women who have an abortion. “
Almost ten years ago, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law stating that abortion providers could not be Medicaid providers, Hill said in a press release. Federal courts have struck down this law under Medicaid, and the United States Supreme Court has refused to reconsider the case.
Hill now argues that several Supreme Court justices have recognized inconsistencies in lower court precedents regarding the issue in recent years.
the Brief led by Indiana asks the Supreme Court to clarify whether abortion providers like Planned Parenthood can sue states to be considered qualified Medicaid providers.
“The Medicaid law is not a civil rights law imposing duties and restrictions on states with respect to the financing of health care,” the brief said. “Rather, it creates a program that states can use to fund their own health care benefits for the poor and disabled. … States have great latitude to design and administer their Medicaid programs in accordance with broad federal guidelines. “
The brief further asserts that the Supreme Court should affirm that Medicaid providers and recipients are not legitimate performers of the federal Medicaid rules. Instead, he argues that the responsibility lies with the US Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“This kind of executive judgment, rendered by an official appointed and revocable by the president, and subject to judicial review at the request of the state, is essential to the proper functioning of Medicaid,” argues the brief. “… The secretary can adjust the funding valve (gradually if he wishes), but in any case, the law allows a state to do what it sees fit. In contrast, a federal court in a lawsuit like this can only issue an injunction that upsets the compromises between the federal government and the state put in place by politically responsible officials. “
The Supreme Court has not made a ruling on whether it will hear the case, Joshua Baker, Director, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Petitioner v. Parenthood Planning South Atlantic, et al., 19-1186.