For immediate release: Sep 26, 2011
Posted by: [Attorney General]
Contact: Bryan Corbin
Phone: (317) 233-3970

Zoeller: State files new brief in Planned Parenthood appeal

AG: Administrative hearing, not federal court, proper place to decide Medicaid dispute

INDIANAPOLIS - On Monday the State of Indiana filed its latest legal brief in the lawsuit over the state law restricting Medicaid funding for abortion providers.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office filed the brief in defense of the new state law, House Enrolled Act 1210. The brief asks the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to lift a preliminary injunction that a federal judge in Indianapolis had ordered June 24, which blocked the new state law from taking effect.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) had sued to prevent implementation of the new statute, HEA 1210. By law, the Attorney General's Office defends from legal challenges the statutes passed by the Legislature.

"The interlocutory appeal process at the federal appellate court is an important and necessary step in defense of the challenged statute. But we maintain that this dispute over indirect Medicaid funding for abortion providers really did not belong in federal court, because it should be decided not as a lawsuit between a private vendor and the State but instead an administrative appeal between the State and federal government over the State's Medicaid plan," Zoeller said.

Separate from the State's interlocutory appeal filed in the 7th Circuit, the State also has filed an administrative appeal of the federal government's decision to not approve its Medicaid plan amendment that had withheld Medicaid funding for abortion providers. The State had sought a rehearing of that decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). A hearing on the administrative appeal of the Medicaid plan denial is scheduled for the CMS regional office in Chicago on December 15.

Meanwhile, the 7th Circuit has scheduled a hearing on the State's interlocutory appeal of the lower court's preliminary injunction. Oral arguments will be October 20 in the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

The State's reply brief filed Monday in the 7th Circuit and authored by Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher sets forth the State's additional rebuttal arguments.

". . . HEA 1210 is narrowly targeted at achieving an important and entirely legitimate government objective - avoiding indirect taxpayer subsidy of abortions - so PPIN's facial challenge cannot succeed on the merits and its preliminary injunction must be dissolved," the State's brief said.

Among other things, the State's position is that Planned Parenthood still could receive Medicaid dollars under HEA 1210 if it separated its abortion provider services from its family planning and other health services so that abortion services were operated as separate legal entity. Also, the State contends the Indiana General Assembly was within its jurisdiction to impose a legal requirement that restricts abortion providers from receiving Medicaid funding, and argues the 7th Circuit should reverse the trial court's June 24 ruling and allow HEA 1210 to take effect.

NOTE: The State's reply brief filed Monday  in the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is at this link.

An audio clip of the Attorney General commenting on the case is at this link.

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