LITTLE ROCK — A state law that prohibits registered sex offenders from providing Medicaid-funded services in Arkansas is unconstitutional because it unfairly targets one person, a lawyer for a southwest Arkansas doctor who is challenging the law argued Thursday in federal court.

LITTLE ROCK — A state law that prohibits registered sex offenders from providing Medicaid-funded services in Arkansas is unconstitutional because it unfairly targets one person, a lawyer for a southwest Arkansas doctor who is challenging the law argued Thursday in federal court.


Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker is seeking a temporary injunction to block implementation of Act 1504, passed by the Legislature and signed into law earlier this year. Parker, who has a clinic in Hope, is a registered sex offender and, according to his lawyers, is the only person in the state affected by the law which went into effect in August.


"We maintain that Act 1504 is an illegal bill of attainder," Parker attorney John Hardy told U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson during a hearing Thursday on the injunction request.


A bill of attainder is legislation that declares a person or group of people guilty of some crime and punishes them without a trial. The state and federal constitutions prohibit bill of attainders.


During Thursday’s hearing, Hardy asked Wilson to stay the law until his client’s lawsuit challenging the law is heard in court.


Wilson did not immediately rule on the injunction request after a two-hour proceeding.


In 2000, Parker was convicted of possessing child 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.


Hardy also argued that Act 1504 violates the rights of Parker’s patients by denying them their right choose their own physician. Several of them have joined in the lawsuit.


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.


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


Mark White, an attorney for the state Department of Human Services, argued that the law is constitutional and does not prevent Parker from practicing medicine in the state or deny treatment to Medicaid patients.


White said the Legislature was doing its job when it passed the legislation.


"The state has an interest in protecting the beneficiaries (who use) health care through the Medicaid program, and it’s particularly appropriate through health care because physical contact, intimate contact, is an inherent feature of the provision of health care services," White said.


Wilson directed Hardy and White to determine if there has been any scholarly research on whether a physician who is a registered sex offender "is a threat or a danger" to his patients.


Wilson told the lawyers to provide him the information within seven days.