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A recently renewed request for a court order to temporarily restore Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood services in Arkansas was placed on hold Thursday while disagreements on how to proceed are worked out.

On Jan. 19, attorneys for the health care provider asked U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker to again consider granting a preliminary injunction to block the cutoff of Medicaid funds.

Baker granted a preliminary injunction in 2015 for three unnamed women who sued over the announced cutoff, and extended the injunction in 2016 to make it apply to all Medicaid patients in Arkansas. But her decision was overturned by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the injunction was vacated Nov. 20.

Planned Parenthood had earlier planned to allow Medicaid patients to continue receiving services, in the hope that the provider would eventually be reimbursed, but the Jan. 19 filing indicated that services are no longer being provided for Medicaid patients.

Baker's earlier injunctions were based on Planned Parenthood's arguments that by cutting off the funds, the state had violated a federal right of patients under the Medicaid Act to choose any qualified provider.

Planned Parenthood now wants Baker to grant an injunction on the grounds that the cutoff violates the equal-protection and due-process rights of the state's two clinics and their patients -- something attorneys for the state said Monday has "even less merits than their Medicaid Act claims."

The state sought a stay on the proceedings, noting that attorneys for Planned Parenthood "offered no explanation whatsoever for failing to pursue a preliminary injunction on those claims at the same time that they originally sought a preliminary injunction."

The parties have been unable to agree on "whether discovery is even needed" on the latest preliminary injunction request, "let alone the scope of any such discovery and appropriate time frames for completion of briefing," the attorney general's office said.

The filing said that while the state disagrees that more fact-gathering and "further piecemeal litigation" is appropriate, the state would, "in the interest of judicial economy, preserving limited taxpayer resources, and reaching swift and final resolution of the case," propose deadlines so the case may "proceed to final resolution."

Among those deadlines would be a date by which the state has to reply to the renewed injunction request.

Baker agreed Thursday to impose a stay on the proceedings until discovery, or fact-gathering, issues are resolved. She said she will issue a separate order imposing deadlines related to the new injunction request.

Metro on 02/02/2018

Print Headline: Planned Parenthood funding plea on hold

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