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Indiana AG Appeals Planned Parenthood Ruling, Organization Looks to Kansas Case for Encouragement

The Indiana Attorney General’s office has filed its brief in the defense of a state law that defunds Planned Parenthood.

The law passed the General Assembly this year and blocks Medicaid funding from any organization that provides abortions. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and the American Civil Liberties Union have challenged the law, and won a temporary injunction in June.

Further, the federal government has rejected Indiana’s attempt to move state Medicaid rules in line with the law. In the brief, Attorney General Greg Zoeller argues that the state’s feud with the federal government should take precedent over any court challenges.

“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,” said Zoeller 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.”

But Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum says that’s too abstract.

“The one thing it overlooks is that the defunding in particular had a very significant and adverse effect on Planned Parenthood of Indiana and his argument entirely forecloses any action on our part to seek relief for that,” she says.

Before the injunction was issued, Planned Parenthood planned layoffs, furloughs and office closures to make up for loss of Medicaid funds. The organization serves about 9,300 Medicaid patients in Indiana.

The appeal takes the case to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. A Kansas judge recently ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor in a similar case.

“Same arguments, same response. There are nuances and differences and all that but it’s one more favorable review,” says Cockrum, adding that the Kansas ruling gives her confidence in another legal victory for her organization.

The appeal will be heard in the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

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Indiana Attorney General Appealing Latest Ruling in Planned Parenthood Case

Officials with Planned Parenthood of Indiana say they are not surprised that the state attorney general is appealing a recent court ruling in favor of the group.

After a law blocking state funding from any organization that provides abortions took effect, Planned Parenthood filed suit. Late last week, a judge issued a temporary block on the law until the case is settled.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office has appealed the ruling. The state is also appealing a federal decision that blocked Indiana’s attempt to change Medicaid rules and bring them in line with the new law. The cases will likely both be heard by the appeals court. A loss to Planned Parenthood would mean the law could not be enforced. A loss to the federal government would mean the state’s roughly $4 billion Medicaid allotment would be cut off.

The federal government and Planned Parenthood both argue that the state government cannot restrict Medicaid patients’ access to care. Zoeller’s office contends that the law–as it was passed by the state legislature–is sound. Further, the office contends that the federal dispute should take priority over Planned Parenthood’s case.

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Injunction Granted in Indiana Planned Parenthood Case

A federal judge in Indiana has stopped the enforcement of a state law that strips Planned Parenthood–and any other organizations that provide abortions–of public funds.

The decision is in line with a recent opinion from the U.S. Justice Department, which contends that states cannot restrict Medicaid patients’ access to care. But while the law will be blocked, the judge agreed that further review is in order. Friday’s decision only means the law will not be enforced until a ruling is made in a suit brought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The law took effect in May, but, through donations, Planned Parenthood of Indiana was able to continue providing most medical services to its 9,300 Medicaid patients. Last Monday, the donations ran out and the organization stopped serving patients who couldn’t pay out of pocket or through private insurance plans. Further, two specialists in Muncie were laid off.

Planned Parenthood officials celebrated the decision. The organization issued a statement saying the two specialists can return to work until a final ruling in the case is made.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also sided with Planned Parenthood, and the state is appealing a rejection of its attempt to bring Medicaid regulations for Indiana in line with the law.

“We will thoroughly review the ruling but it is likely that the State of Indiana will seek an interlocutory appeal to the U.S. 7th Circuit, the same court that would ultimately review the administrative appeal of Indiana’s Medicaid plan in the dispute between the State of Indiana and the federal government,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s spokesman Bryan Corbin in a statement.

Zoeller’s office argues that the dispute between Indiana and the federal government should take precedent over any civil actions against the new law.

If Indiana loses its appeal, the state could lose $4 billion in Medicaid funding.

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Planned Parenthood Donations Run Out, Cuts Possible

The donations that have made Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s services available to Medicaid patients will dry up today.

The donations began pouring into the organization’s offices in early May, after Governor Mitch Daniels signed a law stripping Planned Parenthood of public funding. The money provided most services for the organization’s 9,300 Medicaid patients.

President Betty Cockrum says the flow of donations diminished quickly and will not last any longer.

Planned Parenthood is challenging the law in court. The U.S. Justice Department has sided with the group, saying the state cannot limit Medicaid patients’ options for care and threatening that Indiana could lose all of its Medicaid funding if the law stands. Given that, Cockrum says she’s hoping the case will be decided sometime today .

“There is certainly sufficient argument for a decision but I think it’s also such a critically important and long-term and far-reaching decision, there’s every chance it will be after Monday,” she says.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says his office is dedicated to defending the statute.

Unless a ruling is made before the donations run out, Planned Parenthood will have to consider making cuts, including limiting all services or furloughing employees.

“We also have to be mindful not to do anything that’s too drastic because it’s a very short window. Assuming, again, that there is a ruling no later than June 30th,” says Cockrum.

Elsewhere, organizations facing public funding cuts have essentially split into one branch that handles women’s health and another that handles abortions, but receives no public money. Planned Parenthood of Indiana president Betty Cockrum rejects that proposal.

“There’s a very legitimate concern about the shelf life of any kind of restructuring. Just looking at language that was introduced in the Minnesota legislature this year that would have stripped funds from any organization that even made a referral for an abortion,” she says.