News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 21, 2011

No Medicaid at Planned Parenthood

Ban affects 263 local patients as injunction ruling delayed to July 1

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Effective today, the Terre Haute Planned Parenthood center will no longer be able to serve its 263 Medicaid patients — at least temporarily — because of lack of funding.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana had hoped for a temporary injunction Monday from a federal judge in its attempt to block the state’s new abortion funding law. The law strips Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood of Indiana.

When that ruling did not occur, the organization said it would have to stop seeing Medicaid patients effective today unless those patients can pay or use other resources.

The law signed May 10 by Gov. Mitch Daniels bars Planned Parenthood of Indiana from receiving Medicaid payments for general health services such as cancer screens.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana has been relying on private donations to fund care for Medicaid clients. It has previously said it would run out of donations after Monday to cover the costs of caring for existing Medicaid patients.

Kate Shepherd, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, said that 9,300 Medicaid patients statewide are affected, and 263 in Terre Haute, or 10 percent of Terre Haute’s patient load.

The judge is expected to rule by July 1. “We are definitely hoping that after July 1, or after the judge rules, these patients can return to Planned Parenthood as their preferred provider,” Shepherd said. “Hopefully this is a very short-term problem.”

While the state is saying that there are other providers who can service these patients, at least one woman told Planned Parenthood she contacted every provider the state referred to, and none were taking new Medicaid patients, Shepherd said.

“Our fear is that some of these people will go without services,” she said. “That’s why we are going to court. We’ll do everything we can to take care of the patients.”

Planned Parenthood of Indiana announced other actions as well:   

• Two Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS) will be laid off in Muncie, effective today, until further notice.

• On Wednesday, most employees will be on furlough (a day off without pay). All health centers, with the exception of the Indianapolis-Georgetown facility, will be closed. The Georgetown center will be closed Thursday and its employees will be on furlough that day.

“The one-day furlough should allow us to save enough money to keep our doors open during this brief window between now and the expected ruling by July 1,” said PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum. “We know this is a personal hardship for our employees and our patients, and we had so hoped to avoid it. It is, however, in the best interest of our mission and will allow us to avoid center closures and additional temporary reductions in staff until we get a ruling. We send our apologies to our patients and to our staff. We remain confident we have a strong case.”

Should Planned Parenthood of Indiana fail to be given a favorable ruling by July 1, it will begin to close health centers and reduce staffing. The interim measures “are the least harmful to our patients and our staff, but they in no way begin to address the long-term impact to the organization if our Medicaid provider status is not restored by July 1,” Planned Parenthood of Indiana stated in a news release.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or