Ind. Asks Court To Allow Enforcement of State Law Prohibiting Medicaid Funds to Planned Parenthood
August 2, 2011 — Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller (R) on Monday asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to reverse U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt's decision to issue a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of a state law that eliminates state and federal Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood of Indiana and other clinics that offer abortion services, the Evansville Courier & Press reports. Zoeller in his appeal asked the court to allow the law to be implemented (Bradner, Evansville Courier & Press, 8/1).
In her decision, Pratt wrote that the state law "will exact a devastating financial toll on Planned Parenthood of Indiana and hinder its ability to continue serving patients' general health needs." She added, "States do not have carte blanche to expel otherwise competent Medicaid providers," and "there are no allegations that Planned Parenthood of Indiana is incompetent or that it provides inappropriate or inadequate care."
Pratt gave "some measure of deference" to an Obama administration ruling that denied Indiana's request to make the changes to its Medicaid program. "The public interest tilts in favor of granting an injunction," Pratt wrote, adding, "The federal government has threatened partial or total withholding of federal Medicaid dollars to the state of Indiana, which could total well over $5 billion annually and affect nearly one million Hoosiers." She said, "Denying the injunction could pit the federal government against the state of Indiana in a high-stakes political impasse. And if dogma trumps pragmatism and neither side budges, Indiana's most vulnerable citizens could end up paying the price as the collateral damage of a partisan battle" (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/27).
Zoeller said the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has scheduled an administrative hearing for Sept. 13 at CMS' regional office in Chicago. Zoeller said the "dispute belongs between the state and the federal government that administers and funds the Medicaid program, not between a private contractor and the state." He also wrote, "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."
Zoeller added, "If CMS continues to reject Indiana's plan amendment and is affirmed in doing so, it will likely penalize the state by denying (again subject to judicial review) some portion of federal matching grants." He continued, "Indiana -- meaning the Indiana General Assembly -- will then have to decide whether disqualifying abortion clinics from Medicaid is worth whatever price CMS imposes." According to the Courier & Press, CMS has told the state it must either drop the provision or risk losing as much as $5.3 billion in annual Medicaid funds (Evansville Courier & Press, 8/1).
PPIN Gets $6,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Grants From State Agency
Meanwhile, the Indiana Housing Community and Development Authority on Monday gave PPIN $6,000 in neighborhood assistance grants, AP/TheIndyChannel reports.
According to PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum, the funds will leverage $12,000 in donations raised by the organization and will help provide preventive health services to low-income residents in Marion County, Ind.
IHCDA spokesperson Emily Duncan said that because of Pratt's "ruling, we determined that treating Planned Parenthood different than any other applicant would violate the injunction." Cockrum said she was "surprised and thrilled" that the organization was awarded the grant (LoBianco, AP/TheIndyChannel, 8/1).