Member Spotlight

Indiana Family Health Council

Indianapolis, Ind.

Since 1976, Indiana Family Health Council (IFHC) has been the sole Title X grantee in Indiana. The Indiana Family Health Council (IFHC) delivers services to more than 50,000 people per year through its 13 delegate agencies across the state and is excited about a new project to encourage child spacing. IFHC plans to reach out to women who are eligible for the state's Medicaid waiver, which is currently under review by the state. [Child spacing] seems to be a message that is more appropriate for conservative populations, said Gayla Winston, IFHC president. We used it with the state legislature also.

The strategy to bring in these eligible women includes the creation of IFHC family planning forums, which are made up of groups across the state that include family planning providers, IFHC board members, and individuals who are interested in family planning in the community.

The forums are being expanded to include those who provide services to pregnant women, such as a WIC, prenatal case managers and Healthy Babies, programs that work with at-risk women. IFHC will provide these partners with literature and training for staff on the value of family planning and child-spacing. There will also be a referral service between those agencies and the local family planning health center. IFHC hopes to have this implemented in the six largest cities in Indiana within the next year.

"We have a very active [family planning forum] in Muncie," said Winston. It gets members of the community's very grassroots.

Of course, the mechanism that would help the forums and the child spacing program reach their potential is the family planning waiver. Legislation to authorize the Medicaid family planning waiver, required in some but not all states, has been bottled up in an Indiana Senate committee for quite some time. During the fifth session in which it was introduced, the bill was voted out of committee and anti-family opponents immediately rose up in opposition, alleging that contraception is abortion as they worked to advance their cause. Finally, on the sixth attempt, after advocates greatly emphasized the potential cost-savings to the state, the Indiana state legislature passed a bill, which got the ball rolling for the state's Medicaid office to submit a waiver application to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A change in party at the Governor's office and executive departments resulted in more delay. Four years later, they still have not gotten a final letter of approval, but it is on its way.

The Indiana Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning had a phone call from CMS asking what name they wanted to put on the paperwork, so we're thinking we're close, Winston said.

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