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Planned Parenthood says donors alone can't sustain clinics

May 26, 2011

Donors from far and wide are sending money to Planned Parenthood of Indiana, but the organization doesn’t expect the giving to last.

“What we’ve seen in the last month is astonishing, and it can’t be sustained,” CEO Betty Cockrum said Thursday morning.

The outpouring is in response to a new Indiana law that says abortion providers can’t receive Medicaid reimbursement. That eliminates about $1.4 million, or 9 percent, of Planned Parenthood’s $15 million operating budget.

After receiving more than $100,000 in donations, Planned Parenthood said on Thursday it would continue providing services such as pap tests, sexually transmitted disease testing and birth control to Medicaid patients through June 15.

Planned Parenthood is hoping a federal judge will block the law. The organization doesn’t have a back-up plan because the Medicaid-funding picture is so complicated, spokeswoman Kate Shepherd said.

The impact on patients varies across Planned Parenthood’s 28 clinics. Midtown Indianapolis at 3750 N. Meridian St. sees the highest portion of Medicaid patients, at 24 percent.

At other clinics, such as Castleton and Richmond, the portion of Medicaid patients is less than 6 percent. Several locations serve a high portion of low-income patients, but they’re covered under federal grant programs, not Medicaid reimbursement.

Planned Parenthood performs abortions at four sites: Merrillville, Bloomington, Lafayette and in Indianapolis at 86th Street and Georgetown Road.

Existing federal law means that none of those clinics can use federal funds for their general operations. Medicaid-eligible patients may go to those clinics for abortions, but again, they can’t use federal money to pay for it.

Planned Parenthood performed 5,580 abortions in the 2010 fiscal year ended June 30. At a cost of $300 to $500 each, abortions generate roughly $2 million a year. (Planned Parenthood said it does does not track revenue specifically from abortions.)

This isn’t the first time in recent years that Planned Parenthood of Indiana has lost a source of government revenue. Six clinics closed in 2009 after Indiana privatized the administration of federal family-planning grants, and the contractor changed the rules for distributing money, Shepherd said.  

The clinic closings, plus more aggressive protester activity and the 2010 general election prompted core donors to step up their support, Cockrum said. Planned Parenthood’s main annual fundraising event, “a Gathering of Goddesses and Gods,” raised record amounts the past two years, she said.

In the fiscal year ended June 30, contributions and private-sector grants doubled to more than $2 million, or 13 percent, of revenue. That was the same share as government contracts and grants.

The spike in private support last year was the result of bequests from long-time supporters, Cockrum said. For the most part, she said annual fundraising efforts net a little more than $1 million a year.

“Our fundraising, year-to-year, is very consistent,” she said.

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