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Arkansas Doctor Challenges Law Barring Sex Offenders From Receiving Medicaid Money

UPDATE 11-13-13: Judge refuses to block law denying Medicaid payments to sex offenders (Full article following this one) and then in December: Judge dismisses lawsuit filed by Medicaid doctor convicted of child porn (No reason given)

9-16-2012 Arkansas:

A southwestern Arkansas physician who is a convicted sex offender has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new state law that prohibits registered sex offenders from providing Medicaid-funded services in the state.

Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker argues in the lawsuit filed Friday that the new law, which took effect Aug. 16, violates his constitutional rights.

Parker, who practices in Hope, said in the lawsuit that he provides emergency and general family medical services — including family planning — to rural poor in the state and is a registered provider under the Arkansas Medicaid Program. More than 75 percent of his patients are Medicaid beneficiaries, he said.

Parker was joined in the lawsuit by patients who want him to continue being their family primary care doctor, including Tonya Witherspoon, a mother of five and a Medicaid recipient, and Paula Sunderman and her daughter, Sara.

The law seeks a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of the law pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

In 2000, Parker was convicted of possessing pornography and sentenced to 49 months in prison. He is classified by the Arkansas Sex Offender Assessment Committee as Level 1 sex offender, the lowest level.

In the lawsuit, Parker argues Act 1504 of 2013 “inflicts punishment on a specific group of individuals without judicial trial” in violation of his constitutional right, and “imposes retroactive punishment” because his conviction was more than 10 years ago.

The lawsuit also alleges Act 1504 violates the rights of his patients by denying their “right to choose any willing, qualified health care provider under the Medicaid program,” and excludes “Medicaid providers for reasons unrelated to their qualifications.”

Senate Bill 984, which was later signed into law as Act 1504, was filed by Sen. David Sanders, R-Little Rock, after a legislative audit of Arkansas’ Medicaid program revealed that Parker had received more than $489,000 in Medicaid payments from 2009 to 2012. ..Source.. by Rob Moritz.....

The legislation was among a number of Medicaid reform bills the Legislature adopted this year.


Complaint HERE
Attorney's Brief HERE
State Audit HERE pg-12



Judge refuses to block law denying Medicaid payments to sex offenders

11-14-2013:

LITTLE ROCK — A federal judge Thursday denied a request for a preliminary injunction to delay implementation of a law that prohibits registered sex offenders from providing Medicaid-funded services in Arkansas.

Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker, a registered sex offender, alleged in a September lawsuit that the law, approved by the Legislature this year, violates his constitutional rights. The law went into effect Aug. 16.

Parker asked for the preliminary preliminary injunction to halt enforcement pending the outcome of the lawsuit. The case is set for trial July 29.

In a 28-page order, U.S. District Court Judge Bill Wilson said “an appreciable chance of exposing a child of tender years to sexual abuse outweighs any financial harms or inconvenience Act 1504 may cause.”

Parker, who practices in Hope, had argued that he provides emergency and general family medical services — including family planning — to rural poor in the state and is a registered provider under the Arkansas Medicaid Program. More than 75 percent of his patients are Medicaid beneficiaries, he said.

Parker was joined in the lawsuit by patients who want him to continue being their families’ primary care doctor.

During a September hearing, lawyers for the state Department of Human Services asked Wilson not to grant the injunction request, arguing that the new law does not prevent Parker from practicing medicine and does not cause irreparable harm to patient health care.

They also argued that granting the injunction “will defeat the long-stated public policy of the state of Arkansas in protecting persons from convicted sex offenders.”

In Thursday’s ruling, Wilson noted that some of the pornographic pictures authorities found on Parker’s computer when he was arrested on federal charges included young children.

The judge said he must base his decision “on the particular facts of this case; and Parker has not convinced me by the greater weight of the evidence that one who possesses child pornography of a sadistic nature does not pose a danger to children of tender years.”



Judge dismisses lawsuit filed by Medicaid doctor convicted of child porn

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A federal judge has formally dismissed a lawsuit filed by an Arkansas doctor convicted of possessing child pornography who had been treating Medicaid patients.

The judge on Monday gave Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker permission to file the lawsuit again.

Parker and the state last week announced an end to the lawsuit. He had challenged a state law that blocked him from collecting payments for working with patients covered by Medicaid.

Parker received the child pornography images in 1997 and maintained he had not solicited them and was innocent. His medical license was restored in 2005. Legislators this year banned Medicaid payments to registered sex offenders after learning Parker had collected nearly a half-million dollars.

The court order ending the case did not give a reason for why the lawsuit ended.

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