We noted yesterday that, as Republicans lob attacks on Planned Parenthood, Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford met with an official from the group on Friday to discuss their application to participate in the Affordable Care Act's "guides" program. They explored the possibility of coming up with explicit language to define the scope of the work if Planned Parenthood potentially contracts to hire the guides, who will help people sign up for subsidized health insurance. Bradford, who stressed that there was no agreement with the group at this point, said Planned Parenthood would "submit some more specific wording on what their mission would be."
However, Sen. David Sanders said that a Planned Parenthood contract was a non-starter no matter how explicit the rules.
It's not going to happen. The legislature has a clear role to play in this, and it's just not going to happen. ...
My hope is that Planned Parenthood will realize that and withdraw. They obviously know who they are and they know the controversy that they carry. I would think that if they're thinking of the greater good — their involvement is unnecessary.
When I asked whether an even more tightly worded contract would make any difference, he said, "No, that moves beyond my premise that it's completely unnecessary. By engaging it you're literally injecting controversy into something that shouldn't be controversial."
The state would be opening itself up to a potential viewpoint discrimination lawsuit if it denies a contract to Planned Parenthood, which the Office of State Procurement has already certified as a qualified vendor. But Sanders is skeptical that Planned Parenthood would actually sue the state.
"Would they really do that?" he asked. "That seems kind of silly."
Planned Parenthood told the Times yesterday that they will continue to pursue a contract to be a vendor in the guides program; they were mum on the legal ramifications if that contract is denied.