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Indiana asks court to lift Planned Parenthood order

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Indiana asked a federal appeals court Monday to lift a judge's order blocking parts of a new abortion law that cuts some public Planned Parenthood funding, saying the issue should be decided by Medicaid officials and not the courts.

The 44-page brief asks the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to reverse U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt's June 24 preliminary injunction, which barred the state from cutting Medicaid funds to the organization because it provides abortions.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller's filing Monday came just days after the state complied with the injunction by giving Planned Parenthood a $6,000 grant.

The filing is the latest legal salvo since Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law May 10, temporarily cutting off about $1.4 million to Planned Parenthood of Indiana.

Planned Parenthood immediately challenged the law but was forced to briefly stop seeing Medicaid patients while it awaited Pratt's ruling after private donations ran out.

Indiana has argued that federal law forbids Medicaid to cover abortions in most circumstances and that the program indirectly funds the procedures because Planned Parenthood's financial statements show it commingles Medicaid funds with other revenues. The state has argued Medicaid might subsidize some overhead costs for space where abortions are performed.

In its brief filed Monday, Indiana says federal Medicaid officials, not the courts, should determine the law's legality. The state is appealing Medicaid Administrator Donald Berwick's June 1 decision rejecting changes to Indiana's Medicaid plan brought on by the new law. Berwick contended Medicaid recipients have the right to obtain treatment from any qualified provider, including those that provide abortions.

A hearing on the Medicaid appeal is scheduled for Sept. 13 in Chicago.

"This dispute belongs between the state and the federal government that administers and funds the Medicaid program, not between a private contractor and the state," Zoeller said in a statement. "The proper place to argue this dispute is the federal government's own administrative hearing process, established for exactly this purpose. We hope the 7th Circuit will agree, reverse the U.S. District Court's decision and allow the administrative review to run its course."

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kate Shepherd said the organization was reviewing the filing and has 30 days to respond, but declined to comment further. Shepherd previously has said the organization believes it can continue to get funding under Pratt's ruling even with the state's appeal because the injunction would stand unless it were overturned by another judge.

The organization serves about 9,300 Indiana clients on the state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people.

Indiana's legal action Monday came just three days after an agency reversed course and gave Planned Parenthood of Indiana $6,000 in neighborhood assistance grants.

The Indiana Housing Community and Development Authority said in June it would not give Planned Parenthood any grants because of the new state law, but it changed course Friday.

"With the new ruling, we determined that treating Planned Parenthood different than any other applicant would violate the injunction," said IHCDA spokeswoman Emily Duncan.

The $6,000 should help the group leverage $12,000 in donations, said Planned Parenthood of Indiana President and CEO Betty Cockrum.

She said the money will help Planned Parenthood provide preventive health care to low-income men and women in Marion County. The group has used the tax credit the last two years to raise $21,000 for its health services.

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  • Surplus
    Well, I am glad that the State of Indiana has that surplus of funds, since AG Zoeller is apparently bound and determined to fight such an inane issue. Go ahead, Mr. Zoeller, spend and waste our tax dollars, I suppose there are more where those came from...
  • Indirect Funding Issue
    It is absolutely hilarious that any one could say with a straight face that because Medicaid reimbursment for other Medicaid covered services being comingled with general funds by Planned Parenthood indirect fund abortions by "possibly" subsidizing some of the overhead cost for space where abortions are provided. Really? Seriously? What a joke. Have any of you actually looked at the Medicaid fee schedule? The reimbursement for the services actually covered by Medicaid does not even cover the cost to provide those specific services. There is no "profit" being made on these services that contributes to funding any portion of any other service. Someone please clarify for me how you can argue that any funding is used, even indirectly, to cover overhead. The grant money they receive helps to make up the difference between what Medicaid pays and the actual cost of providing the services and to offset services that are not paid becuase of most of the contractors rarely pay the claim with the initial submission. What a joke!! Also, with the state cutting funding for many other Medicaid services and claiming to be an a state of crisis, why are we as tax payers footing the bill for the AG to appeal this decision. The feds weighed in and said "no" you can't limit member selection. Quit wasting my tax dollars!!!!!!
  • Horrific?
    The entire concept of feticide is abhorrent! Abortions shouldn't be back-alley operations... nor sterile OR operations, either. And DEFINITELY not be paid for in any guise with MY money! Mr. Zoeller, stick to your guns! It's what I've maintained all along - federal law forbids Medicaid to cover abortions in most circumstances and that the program indirectly funds the procedures because Planned Parenthood's financial statements show it commingles Medicaid funds with other revenues. So, cut 'em off. And you can take that any way you want...
  • What a waste of tax dollars
    So let me get this straight - they want it pulled from the courts and Medicaid officials to decide. But wait! Medicaid adminstrator Donald Berwick already rejected? I'm repulubican, but ashamed to say so in these times. It's time we stop pushing a radical agenda and start working for the people of Indiana.
  • I agree
    I agree with J. I live in Indiana, and I have no wish to see abortions become back-alley operations again. Nor do I wish to fund them indirectly by paying for emergency medical care for mothers who seek illegal abortions. Planned Parenthood provides an essential service to all of us by preventing these horrific things from happening.

    Mr. Zoeller, why don't we put some of the state money we're wasting on endless appeals toward SENSIBLE birth control instead? This Hoosier pays taxes and wants to know.
    • Indiana?
      I live in Indiana and I don't recall asking the federal appeals court to overturn the courts decision to cut off funding. I would be happy to assist in funding permanent birth control to cut out abortions, and I'd be happy to help develop a condom that couldn't be removed to help stop STD's, but I would rather see that money go towards helping uninsured or under-insured for general health care and the counseling they offer everything else should be paid in full by the client, not the state or me.

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