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Indiana’s Planned Parenthood sees Medicaid clients again

By Charles Wilson
Associated Press / June 26, 2011

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

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kate Shepherd said she did not know how many Medicaid patients had visited the group’s 28 clinics since Friday’s federal court ruling, but the clinics often 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 Governor Mitch Daniels, a Republican, signed a law that cut off about $1.4 million and made the state the first to deny the group 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 .

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

US District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s ruling 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 will likely appeal.

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

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