, of Kansas Legal Services, of Hays, and
Lowell C. Paul,
of Kansas LegalServices, of Topeka, for appellant.
Brian M. Vazquez
, of Kansas Health Policy Authority, for appellee.
Keturah A. Dunne
, associate general counsel, of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of NewYork, Inc., of Patterson, New York, and
Tony A. Potter
, of Potter Law Office, P.A., of Hill City, for
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Mary D. Stinemetz, a Kansas citizen and a practicing Jehovah'sWitness, needs a liver transplant, yet her religious beliefs prohibit blood transfusions.There is a medically accepted technique, known as a bloodless liver transplant, in whichliver transplant surgery can be performed without a blood transfusion, although manymedical facilities do not consider this technique to be the safest procedure. Cost is not theissue. The available evidence indicates that the bloodless technique is less expensive thana procedure involving blood transfusions. There is no medical facility in Kansas thatperforms bloodless liver transplants, but the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha iswilling to perform the surgery.Because Stinemetz is a beneficiary of the Kansas Medical Assistance Program(Medicaid), she requested prior authorization from the Kansas Health Policy Authority(KHPA) for an out-of-state liver transplant. There is no question that the KHPA wouldauthorize a liver transplant for Stinemetz in Kansas, including a bloodless liver transplantif a medical facility was available in Kansas to perform the technique. However, theKHPA denied Stinemetz' request for prior authorization for out-of-state services on theground that her religious preference did not constitute a medical necessity. The districtcourt affirmed the KHPA's denial of prior authorization. Stinemetz appeals, asserting thatthe denial violated her rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to