The Herald Bulletin

August 8, 2013

Editorial: Politics and health care don't mix

The Herald Bulletin

---- — When a federal judge effectively closed the door on a misguided state law that would have barred Medicaid recipients from receiving health care at Planned Parenthood clinics, many Hoosiers just shook their heads.

Why would the Legislature in 2011 make Indiana the first state in the nation to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal money? Of course, the answer is that Planned Parenthood offers abortions. And, at that time, the conservative-dominated Statehouse felt compelled to tell Planned Parenthood to go away.

If it had gone into effect, the law would have prevented funding for Planned Parenthood family planning programs in Indiana.

But in passing the law, elected Statehouse legislators were also telling some Medicaid recipients to go away. Worse still, the Legislature was denying access for Medicaid recipients to receive health care. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky serves 80,000 men and women including 9,000 enrolled in Indiana’s Medicaid program. The agency offers preventive care including birth control, STD testing, Pap tests and breast and testicular exams.

Political statements should not deny health care to any segment of Hoosiers.

Some in the Statehouse may not realize the misguided nature of the law. Others, like Attorney General Greg Zoeller, are very cautious. In a statement, Zoeller said, “It was important and necessary to defend the policy decision of the people’s elected representatives in the legislature ...” No matter what Zoeller’s personal feelings are, he is placing responsibility for his office spending dollars on this two-year-old case directly on the Legislature. He also backed away from saying the law was completely proper.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt made permanent a preliminary injunction that stopped implementation of the law.

Not by chance, Pratt’s decision came one day after the state of Indiana and Planned Parenthood agreed that the state could not violate Medicaid’s provision that offers “freedom of choice.” Medicaid patients can choose their health care providers. Such rights shouldn’t be treated as byproducts.

Unfortunately it took two years for the state to acknowledge that the political views of those who despise Planned Parenthood shouldn’t harm Hoosiers who choose to use the agency for health care.

In summary In trying to shut down Planned Parenthood, Statehouse politics were harming Hoosiers on Medicaid.