June 26, 2011 in Nation/World

Clinics seeing Medicaid patients

Planned Parenthood of Indiana moves quickly after federal judge’s decision
Charles Wilson Associated Press
 

INDIANAPOLIS – Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana started seeing Medicaid patients again Saturday, the day after a federal judge ruled the state couldn’t cut off the organization’s public funding for general health services just because it also provides abortions.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kate Shepherd said she didn’t know how many Medicaid patients had visited the group’s 28 clinics since Friday night’s federal court ruling, but the clinics usually average about 80 a day.

“Saturday is one of the busier days because people don’t have to take off work, and they can get family members to watch their children,” Shepherd said.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana has been without Medicaid funding since May 10, when Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law that cut off about $1.4 million and made Indiana the first state to deny the organization Medicaid funds for services such as breast exams and Pap tests.

Planned Parenthood, which serves about 9,300 Indiana clients on the state-federal health insurance plan for low-income and disabled people, was forced to stop seeing Medicaid patients this week after private donations that had paid those patients’ bills ran out.

Shepherd said the group was trying to get the word out to Medicaid patients that they could start coming back Saturday. She said she believed some clinics with close relationships with their Medicaid patients were phoning to tell them they could return.

“They’re so very happy to be able to say to their patients, ‘We’d love to see you again,’ ” she said.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s ruling Friday blocked parts of a tough new abortion law and granted Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s request for an injunction on the state’s move to defund the organization. The decision sides with federal officials who said states cannot restrict Medicaid recipients’ freedom to choose their health care provider or disqualify Medicaid providers merely because they also offer abortions.

Indiana attorney general’s office spokesman Bryan Corbin said the state likely will appeal.

State Sen. Scott Schneider, an Indianapolis Republican who sponsored the measure to defund Planned Parenthood, said the state should appeal.

“The whole ruling is disappointing in my opinion. In my opinion, it’s judicial activism,” he said.

Pratt’s ruling was part of a double setback for Indiana conservatives by federal judges Friday. U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker granted a request for an injunction blocking two provisions of the state’s new immigration law, saying the law was the latest failed effort of states to deal with a primarily federal issue.

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