Two states, Kansas and Louisiana, asked the Supreme Court of the United States to determine whether “Medicaid Act grants individual Medicaid patients a private right of action to sue in federal court in order to challenge a state’s disqualification of their preferred Medicaid provider,” according to Americans United for Life (AUL). Today, the Court declined to hear the appeals cases of Andersen v. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (Kansas) and Gee v. Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast (Louisiana). The mainstream media, predictably, is hailing the decision not to hear the appeals as a victory for Planned Parenthood and ‘abortion rights.’
AUL had “filed a ‘friend of the court’ brief in support of Kansas, as well as a brief in support of Louisiana on behalf of 24 Senators and 66 Representatives in Congress, urging the High Court to review these cases and recognize the sovereign authority of states.”
Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh sided with the majority on the Supreme Court, while Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Four justices were needed in order for the appeals to be heard. According to Bloomberg, “Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said Monday they would have heard the appeals, which contended the federal Medicaid law doesn’t allow lawsuits by providers who are kicked out of the program.”
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Justice Thomas (joined by Samuels and Alito) penned a scathing dissent to the Court’s decision not to intervene at this time, writing (emphasis added):
Because of this Court’s inaction, patients in different States—even patients with the same providers—have different rights to challenge their State’s provider decisions.
The question presented also affects the rights of the States, many of which are amici requesting our guidance. Under the current majority rule, a State faces the threat of a federal lawsuit—and its attendant costs and fees— whenever it changes providers of medical products or services for its Medicaid recipients….
So what explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named “Planned Parenthood.” That makes the Court’s decision particularly troubling, as the question presented has nothing to do with abortion. 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…. But these cases are not about abortion rights. They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act….
Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty.
Catherine Glenn Foster, AUL’s president and CEO, noted that “there are other similar cases pending in lower courts, which may give the Supreme Court another opportunity to decide this important issue. In the meantime, AUL will continue to fight to protect states from being forced to use their limited public funds to subsidize abortion businesses.”