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As law cutting off funds is signed, Indiana agency says every county has same services as Planned Parenthood

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/08/MahurinEcon_Thumb4.jpgWhile Planned Parenthood of Indiana lost its injunction Wednesday against a brand-new Indiana law — signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels on Tuesday — that strips abortion providers of Medicaid funding for reproductive and sexual health services, PP has claimed that about 9,300 Hoosiers will likely be deprived of access to these services. Meanwhile, the state is maintaining that corresponding services exist in every county.

“The ruling means that Hoosiers who rely on federal funding have lost access to their crucial and lifesaving preventive health care at Planned Parenthood of Indiana,” said PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum in a statement following the court ruling in the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.

PPIN has also said it would have to stop providing disease-intervention services to hundreds of women and men in 22 counties. Those services are currently provided through staff based in Lafayette and Muncie health centers.

Though Gov. Daniels has said that Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration would be in charge of notifying Medicaid recipients of nearby options, FSSA spokesperson Marcus Barlow told The American Independent the onus is up to Planned Parenthood to notify Hoosiers that their services will no longer be covered by Medicaid.

But the organization has not yet done so, PPIN spokesperson Kate Shepherd told TAI. Through Saturday, Planned Parenthood will be accepting its Medicaid recipients “in most cases,” she said. Some “long-term forms of birth control” will not be covered. In the meantime, she said the organization is scrutinizing its Women’s Health Fund, which is funded by donors for preventative care, to see how many patients PPIN can continue cover. As to whether any clinics might have to close, Shepherd said is “too early to say.”

The FSSA did update its website following Tuesday’s bill passage, notifying Medicaid recipients that their benefit plans have not changed; the only thing that has changed is where they can receive covered reproductive services such as birth control and pelvic exams.

Barlow said the agency does not have a comprehensive list of Medicaid providers throughout the state that also provide reproductive health services such as those provided at the 28 Planned Parenthood clinics. Medicaid recipients are to use the Indiana Medicaid for Members online provider-search service. He said family planning services only make up 7 percent of total services offered by Medicaid providers in the state and the funding stripped by Daniels’ bill only represents 0.02 percent total Medicaid funding for the state.

Barlow said he was confident that all 92 counties in Indiana have clinics offering the services defunded at PPIN such a contraception, pap smears and sexually transmitted disease prevention.

But Cockrum has challenged that claim, saying that rural areas such as Elkhart County in northeastern part of the state — an area famous for its large recreational vehicle industry and high unemployment rate, which in 2009 reached 18 percent and earned a visit from President Obama — do not have comparable service.

After collecting all the Medicaid providers in the state, the governor reported that in Elkhart County there are 37 providers. A receptionist at the Elkhart County Health Department could not readily refer TAI to any Medicaid providers in the county that offer services such as hormonal birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing.

River Oaks OB/GYN in Elkhart, Ind., provides basic gynecological services and sees patients on Medicaid but only sees pregnant women on the Managed Health Services plan, under the Healthy Indiana Plan. Fairhaven Obstetrics and Gynecology in Goshen, Ind. — which claims to provide “quality obstetric and gynecologic care guided by Christian principles” — and Goshen OB/GYN offer comprehensive contraceptive services to Medicaid recipients, as well as STD testing, but only for female patients. Many family planning clinics in the county listed in the Yellow Pages — such as the Women’s Care Center, LDS Family Services, Natural Family Planning — offer free pregnancy tests and classes but no contraception or STD prevention services.

Shepherd said Planned Parenthood is still hopeful its case will win in court. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt denied the request for a temporary restraining order Wednesday afternoon, but Shepherd said she told the plaintiffs not to read into her feelings on the merits of the case. There will be a hearing in Indianapolis on June 6.

Despite initial conjectures that this new law, passed as House Bill 1210, would take away all public family-planning funding, the state has conceded that some family planning funds would not be affected. At issue now is $1.4 million in mostly Medicaid funding, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, which also notes that the state itself is now at risk of losing $4 million annually in federal family planning grants.

Aside from the defunding measure, HB 1210 also bans abortion after 20 weeks unless the mother’s life is at risk.

PPIN, being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, is challenging the “fetal pain” and other provisions in addition to the funding piece of the legislation.

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