Indiana: Planned Parenthood Mixes Medicaid Funds With Abortion Money

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2011   |   6:36PM   |   Indianapolis, IN

Democrats in the U.S Senate are attacking and the Indiana state government is defending a new law that revokes taxpayer funding for the Indiana Planned Parenthood abortion business.

Governor Mitch Daniels signed the law, which would cut off anywhere from $2 million to $3 million the Planned Parenthood abortion business receives in federal funds via the Indiana government through Medicaid.

The law also contains several pro-life provisions that directly affect abortion, such as banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on fetal pain and provisions to opt-out of abortion coverage in any state health exchanges required under the new federal health law, to require that women considering abortion be given full, factual information in writing, and to require doctors who do abortions, or their designees, to maintain local hospital admitting privileges in order to streamline access to emergency care for women injured by abortion.

Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of the law and filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis just hours after Daniels signed the legislation into law. It alleges the law would violate contracts already in place between it and the state and that it forces Planned Parenthood to choose between doing abortions and getting taxpayer funding.

However, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt declined to issue the injunction while she takes more time to analyze the legal issues involved in the lawsuit. That type of decision is usually an indicator that the judge will eventually issue a ruling against the party bringing the lawsuit.

The Indiana state government yesterday officially filed a memorandum of opposition to a motion for an injunction by Planned Parenthood of Indiana in an attempt to block three provisions of Indiana’s newly-enacted law. Indiana essentially says Planned Parenthood does not try to segregate its funds to ensure the taxpayer money is not paying for abortions.

The state argues that there is “no record that PPIN makes any effort to either segregate Medicaid reimbursements from other unrestricted revenue sources or to allocate the cost of its various lines of business, whether abortion, family planning, cancer screenings, or other services.”

“This indicates that, while PPIN may not receive Medicaid reimbursements directly related to abortions, the Medicaid reimbursements it does receive are pooled or comingled with other monies it receives and thus help to pay for total operational costs,” the state said, making it so abortions or costs related to abortions are indirectly funded. (View the full document here: Memo in Opposition to Motion for Preliminary Injunction)

In addition, the state argues that the new law serves the public interest in three ways:  the funding qualification provision prevents taxpayer dollars from indirectly funding abortions; it advances the State’s goals of encouraging women to choose childbirth over abortion, and the informed consent requirements ensure that women who choose abortion have all the information necessary to make an informed and voluntary decision.

“The state’s thorough and well-reasoned defense of HEA 1210 underscores that this new law is on solid legal footing,” Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter told LifeNews in response.

A federal judge will hear arguments on Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s motion for an injunction on June 6.

Meanwhile, after news that the Obama administration may exercise its right to federal review of the law, because of the changes to Medicaid, now Senate Democrats are going after it as well.

Some of the more ardent pro-abortion members of the Senate signed a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, according to National Journal, asking her to inform state Medicaid administrators that there are penalties for withholding the funds from Planned Parenthood.

“We respectfully request that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issue guidance to state Medicaid directors clarifying that taking action to exclude family planning clinics that provide abortion services from Medicaid participation, such as Planned Parenthood, will lead to compliance actions,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said in the letter. “The restrictions threatened by state legislatures blatantly contradict the spirit and letter of well-established and long-accepted law. We write not to ask support for new law, but for vigorous, prompt enforcement of existing law.”

The letter follows the plan of attack the Obama administration is expected to use. According to the New York Times, federal officials have 90 days to challenge the new law and the Obama administration may move sooner because of the current enforcement of it. The challenge may come in the form of partially or totally withholding federal Medicaid money from Indiana and threatening to do so often makes states comply. Of course, if the Obama administration follows through on the threat, it would hurt the poor Indiana residents the Medicaid program is designed to help.

The Times also indicates that the Obama administration is not a party to the lawsuit Planned Parenthood of Indiana filed against the law, but its move to challenge the law by threatening to revoke funding could make an impact on how the lower court handles the case, which it is expected to hear in two weeks.

Current federal law prohibits using the tax money to pay for almost any abortion, but the money can still go to groups like Planned Parenthood that do abortions and frees up funds they may otherwise spend on legitimate medical services to go to paying for or providing abortions. The Indiana law says any entity that does abortions is not eligible to receive the Medicaid funding.