Obama Tells Mitch Daniels No and Planned Parenthood Goes to Court

Jun 07 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

"Our Man" Mitch Daniels

The Mitch Daniels’ revolt against Planned Parenthood and his war against Hoosier women (and men) has run afoul of the Department of Health and Human Services and now it must navigate the obstacle posed by the Federal courts.

On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge presided over a hearing on Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s request for an injunction against HEA 1210, signed into law by Mitch Daniels on May 10. HEA 1210, as you may remember, strips Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN). It also requires doctors to lie to their patients, telling them that an abortion can lead to cancer:

  • Requires that a physician determine the postfertilization age of a fetus before performing an abortion, and allows for the discipline of a physician who fails to do this in certain circumstances.
  • Adds information that a pregnant woman must be informed of orally and in writing (current law requires that the information be given only orally) before an abortion may be performed concerning the physician, risks involved, information concerning the fetus, available assistance, and existing law.
  • Requires a pregnant woman seeking an abortion to view fetal ultrasound imaging unless the pregnant woman states in writing that the pregnant woman does not want to view the fetal ultrasound imaging.
  • Requires a physician who performs an abortion to: (1) have admitting privileges at a hospital in the county or in a contiguous county to the county where the abortion is performed; or (2) enter into an agreement with a physician who has admitting privileges in the county or contiguous county; and notify the patient of the hospital location where the patient can receive follow-up care by the physician.
  • Requires the state department of health to post Internet website links on the state department’s web site to materials setting forth certain information concerning a fetus and abortion.
  • Prohibits qualified health plans under the federal health care reform law from providing coverage for abortions except for in certain circumstances.

The hearing on this latest attempt by Christian fundamentalists to impose their beliefs as a state-sponsored religion, was held before the U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt (an Obama appointee) and she has said she will render a decision by July 1, though it may come sooner. It is not known yet what the federal government will do with the $4 billion in Medicaid money due Indiana. According to Heather Gillers, writing for Indystar.com, “Health policy experts say it is rare for the federal government to withhold Medicaid funds as punishment.”  Gillers goes on to point out,

But this is different. No other state has tried what Indiana is doing — and this isn’t your typical battle of the bureaucrats over interpretations of Medicaid eligibility rules. It is also a very public political and ideological fight.

ACLU, taking up Planned Parenthood’s cause, argues that the language in HEA 1210 violates both federal Medicaid law and the U.S. Constitution. Planned Parenthood of Indiana President and CEO Betty Cockrum said:

“We have a strong case and look forward to continuing to communicate that the state has made a huge and costly mistake – one that breaks laws that are already on the books and harms the health of men and women across Indiana.”

She added,

“We’re seeking this injunction on behalf of our patients and will be forever grateful to those who ‘are standing with Planned Parenthood’ during these difficult times.  The negligence of lawmakers has forced us into court to protect our Medicaid patients long-term and ensure they receive care from us for another eighty years.”

The Department of Health and Human Services has already issued a stern rejection last Wednesday of this particular chapter in the Republican War on Women. Medicaid Administrator Donald M. Berwick wrote to Patricia Cassanova, the director of Indiana’s office of Medicaid Policy and Planning to tell her:

“Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider’s scope of practice. Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers.”

Indiana says it will proceed with its state-mandated war on women because that’s the law. Marcus Barlow, a spokesman for Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration, told National Journal, “The way the law was written, it went into effect the moment the governor signed it. We were just advised by our lawyers that we should continue to enforce Indiana law.”

This revolt could end unhappily for Hoosiers: Since May 10, Planned Parenthood has continued doing business only through donations but that money will be gone by June 20, so Judge Pratt’s ruling cannot come soon enough. And Indiana could face penalties if it does not comply, though Mitch Daniels told reporters he would abide by the district court’s ruling.

Betty Cockrum said, “I like June a lot better than I liked May.” It’s to be hoped that July is even better, because the truth belies the Tea Party mantra: if the federal government win, Hoosiers win.

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