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Doctor Asks Judge for Preliminary Injunction Pending Future Trial

The law prevents registered sex offenders, like him, from receiving Medicaid funds.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- An Arkansas doctor is fighting a state law he deems unconstitutional.

The law prevents registered sex offenders, like him, from receiving Medicaid funds.

Dr. Lonnie Parker is a primary care doctor in the city of Hope.

Seventy-five percent of his patients are on Medicaid, meaning the law won't let him collect Medicaid funds from his patients because he's a registered sex offender.

With the law taking effect Aug. 16, the past month has been tough for attorney John Hardy's client.

"Since the bill became a law last month, [Parker] has turned away his Medicaid patients, and he's lost half of his practice," Hardy said.

In 2000, Parker was convicted for possessing child pornography, a crime he insists he didn't commit.

He filed a lawsuit earlier this month in response to the new law, and at a court hearing Thursday, the judge heard arguments for a preliminary injunction.

"We want the status quo to remain so Dr. Parker can keep working while the litigation goes on," Hardy said.

Hardy believes the law is illegal for many reasons.

"Any Medicaid beneficiary is entitled to receive medical treatment from the provider of their choice," he said.

The lawmakers behind the bill say their claims have no grounds.

"If we were to encounter a situation where a doctor were to do something to a child, and the child was apart of the Medicaid program, there's a potential risk for the State," said Sen. David Sanders, one of the authors of the bill.

The public's safety is the priority for Sanders.

He drew up the bill after a special audit report revealed a registered sex offender was working in the Medicaid program.

"I'm less worried about the individual and more worried about the policy," Sanders said.

It's a policy that Hardy says shouldn't apply to Parker, a Level 1 sex offender.

"Least likely to harm anybody, and Dr. Parker would never harm anybody, and I've just go to say he's also was innocent in 2000 of what he was accused of," Hardy said.

A judge didn't make a decision at Thursday's court hearing, but asked both parties to submit articles or studies that show any kind of connection between a person who's been convicted of possessing child pornography and somehow harming their patient.

If Parker is not granted the preliminary injunction, he told FOX16's Susanne Brunner he won't be able to practice medicine.

It's only been a month since the law took effect, and he's been forced to turn away patients and has taken out a bank loan.

But on the phone, he said he has a huge support from his community.
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