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Planned Parenthood stops seeing Medicaid patients

June 20, 2011

Planned Parenthood of Indiana is no longer seeing Medicaid patients because a federal judge hasn't ruled yet on its attempt to block a new Indiana law cutting funding for certain abortion providers, officials said Monday.

Planned Parenthood — which provides breast exams, Pap tests, birth control and other health services to thousands of low-income women — has been relying on private donations to fund care for Medicaid clients since the law passed, but said it doesn't have enough donations to continue doing so. The organization said it is no longer seeing Medicaid patients unless they can pay or use other resources, and Planned Parenthood plans to lay off two disease intervention specialists in Muncie until further notice.

All but one of Planned Parenthood's health centers will be closed Wednesday as most employees have a day off without pay.

The measures are meant to help the organization survive while officials wait for a ruling on a request for a preliminary injunction. U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has said she expects to rule on the matter by July 1.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum said the measures are a personal hardship for employees and patients.

"We send our apologies to our patients and to our staff," she said. "We remain confident we have a strong case."

The law signed May 10 by Gov. Mitch Daniels cuts off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortions. The group conducted more than 5,500 abortions in Indiana in 2010.

The Obama administration said in a June 1 letter that the state's new Medicaid plan cutting funding for Planned Parenthood violated federal law. The Justice Department filed a brief Thursday supporting Planned Parenthood's request for an injunction.

On Friday, Pratt gave the state of Indiana a week to respond to that brief. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has said the state would appeal the Obama administration's ruling on Indiana's Medicaid plan and called yesterday's filing by the Justice Department "inappropriate."

If Pratt does not rule in Planned Parenthood's favor by July 1, the organization plans to begin closing health centers and reducing staffing. Planned Parenthood said it has 9,300 Medicaid patients who could see care disrupted.

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