A District Court of Appeals judge ruled last week that Mississippi cannot deny Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood simply because they offer or are affiliated with abortion services, granting a permanent injunction to two facilities.
The law, which took effect July 1, was in violation of Medicaid’s free-choice-of-provider clause, which stipulates that Medicaid patients be allowed to receive health care services form the provider of their choice, so long as that provider is offering legal medical services.
The judge pointed out that essentially every other court that has had to consider a similar measure has found it to be unconstitutional. Last month, a judge in Arkansas granted a preliminary injunction to Planned Parenthood, blocking a similar Medicaid funding ban from going into effect.
Had the state been allowed to bar Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood, nearly 700,000 Mississippi residents on Medicaid would have been denied access to a reliable healthcare provider. Mississippi is one of the states that refuses to expand Medicaid coverage, denying 30 percent of uninsured residents access to healthcare through Medicaid, the largest percentage in the nation.
Adding to the state’s poor record for providing healthcare, Mississippi was recently sued by the Department of Justice for failing to provide adults with mental illness appropriate access to medical care, a violation of their civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The DOJ had originally released its report on the failings of Mississippi’s mental healthcare system in 2011, but in the intervening five years the state has done nothing to improve the system or implement required reforms.
25 states have attempted to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding following the release of fraudulently filmed and deceptively edited videos by the so-called Center for Medical Progress.