Indiana can't block Medicaid money for Planned Parenthood, feds say
An Indiana law that prevents Medicaid dollars from going to Planned Parenthood, an abortion provider, runs afoul of Medicaid law, the Obama administration says. A long legal battle could be ahead, with other states watching to see if they can follow suit.
Federal authorities on Thursday rejected Indiana’s bid to block Medicaid recipients from receiving care at Planned Parenthood. If Indiana lawmakers do not abolish a recent state law that eliminates the group’s funding, officials say, the state may lose nearly $8 billion it receives in Medicaid dollars.Skip to next paragraph
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The admonition could be a deterrent for other states that may have similar designs to withhold funding from the organization, which is the largest provider of abortions in the US and has become a lightning rod for conservatives. Republicans pushed hard but failed to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood in the 2011 budget.
A letter sent Wednesday to the Indiana Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning said the law violates federal Medicaid law because states are prohibited to pick and choose which groups receive Medicaid dollars.
“As you know, federal Medicaid funding of abortion services is not permitted under federal law except in extraordinary circumstances … at the same time, 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,” wrote Donald Berwick, an administrator with the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) signed the bill, which took effect May 10, to deny the group about $2 million in federal dollars, which is disbursed by state authorities. Besides eliminating the group’s funding, the law includes other requirements meant to restrict abortions in the state, including a ban on the procedure following the 20th week of pregnancy unless the woman’s life is in jeopardy and a requirement that abortion providers tell women seeking abortions that life begins at conception, that the procedure is linked to infertility, and that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks or earlier.
Court battle likely
A prolonged court battle appears in the works. Planned Parenthood is challenging the law in federal court, and a hearing is scheduled Monday in Indianapolis.