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CAP opposes Medicaid expansion without abortion safeguard

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy. (file photo)

The Center for Arizona Policy is opposed to Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan unless the Legislature ensures that funds from the program don’t indirectly subsidize abortions.

The pro-life, socially conservative organization has been officially neutral on Brewer’s Medicaid plan throughout the session. But CAP President Cathi Herrod said the group opposes the expansion of Medicaid unless the Legislature approves language aimed at barring abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood from using Medicaid funds to directly or indirectly subsidize abortions, including through administrative expenses such as rent or utilities.

Herrod said the Medicaid plan is likely to pass, and said it would be a “sad day” if it did so without the abortion provision.

“Our position up to now has been neutral on Medicaid expansion. Obviously, we are very concerned. We believe that Medicaid expansion does mean more dollars go to abortion providers, and we believe that the abortion issue should be addressed,” Herrod said. “We disagree with Medicaid expansion passing without the abortion issue being addressed.”

Herrod wants the Legislature to approve SB1069, a multifaceted abortion bill that includes language on the indirect subsidization of abortions through Medicaid. The bill also includes provisions allowing the state to conduct unannounced, warrantless inspections of abortion clinics, and barring Medicaid providers from providing abortions to Medicaid patients, regardless of how the patients pay for the procedures.

The subsidization clause is nearly identical to language that Herrod proposed to Brewer, Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker Andy Tobin in a March 26 letter. The issue prompted at least one expansion supporter in the Legislature, Rep. Paul Boyer, to switch his position and oppose the plan.

Brewer contemplated an abortion provision in her Medicaid plan for several weeks, but ultimately rejected the idea, saying it was unnecessary and unlikely to stand up in court. The issue threatened to break apart the coalition she formed with legislative Democrats on the Medicaid issue.

The governor on Tuesday said she hadn’t reviewed the language in SB1069 and had no opinion on the legislation. But she acknowledged that it could complicate her plans for Medicaid expansion by driving away Democrats.

“Generally speaking, when you’re dealing with policy, when you add other issues into that particular subject it makes it more difficult. I’m not too familiar with the amendment that they’re attempting to address. I thought that issue had been put to rest,” she said.

Further complicating the position is the near certainty that even if the Legislature approves SB1069, it likely wouldn’t happen until after lawmakers approve the Medicaid plan in a special session. A vote on the bill was scheduled for Tuesday, but the vote was canceled.

Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, prepared an amendment that would have gutted SB1069 and replaced it with language creating a study committee on abortion clinics’ compliance with the law. In an email to supporters, CAP urged the Legislature to pass SB1069 as is, and decried the Meyer amendment.

“Opponents of the bill, backed by Planned Parenthood, have filed a hostile amendment that would effectively gut this vital piece of legislation,” the CAP statement read. “Simply put, if a legislator claims to be pro-life, then they should vote for SB 1069 as passed by the House Appropriations Committee and vote against any hostile amendments.”

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