(CNN) - A controversial Indiana law that would keep low-income women from using federal Medicaid benefits to receive any kind of reproductive medical care from Planned Parenthood is unacceptable because it denies women the freedom to choose their health care providers, according to a federal hearing officer.
In June 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of the Department of Health and Human Services ruled the state law, which would alter the way Medicaid is run in Indiana, violates federal laws, making it unacceptable.
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The state has argued the law, HEA 1210, simply intended to block Medicaid money from going toward abortions, and filed an administrative appeal to CMS to reassess the ruling.
“Like any other petitioner who is entitled to a hearing, the State of Indiana appreciated the opportunity to try to explain to CMS the Indiana Legislature's public policy decision that private providers ought not indirectly subsidize abortion procedures through Medicaid dollars and that the legislation had that separation in mind,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement.
Overseeing the administrative appeal, Hearing Officer Benjamin Cohen said that the law violated a federal requirement that individuals must have the liberty to obtain care from any qualified provider, and recommended CMS administrators uphold their original ruling.
“Indiana’s own Legislative Services Agency advised prior to the passage of HEA 1210 that, in fact, ‘Federal law permits states to define a qualified provider, but requires that this definition is related to a provider’s ability to perform a service and not what services are provided,’” Cohen wrote in his recommendation.
The restrictive state law, signed in May 2011 by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, was designed to keep clinics run by Planned Parenthood from performing abortions, because any that did so would lose virtually all Medicaid-funded business.
In addition to the Medicare restrictions, the bill also bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, with exceptions for the life or health of the mother.
"CMS has informed Indiana that their proposed Amendment is not in compliance with federal law. We are working with Indiana and fully expect that the State will follow the federal law that sets the conditions for its receipt of over $4 billion in Federal Medicaid funds," CMS said in a statement.
The attorney general’s office pointed out in its own statement, it still has a chance to file an exception to Cohen’s recommendation before the CMS Administrators makes a final decision.
Federal law already bans Medicaid funds to pay for abortions in most instances, but Indiana's law is more restrictive. The measure specifically blocks the Indiana Department of Health from signing contracts with any group performing abortions, with the exception of hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers.
“We are gratified by the federal government’s decision and thrilled that (Planned Parenthood of Indiana) continues to be able to provide preventive health care to our patients. Through its appeal, the State was continuing its attack on women’s rights and attempting to restrict access to basic, lifesaving services such as Pap tests, breast exams, STD testing and treatment, and birth control,” said Planned Parenthood of Indiana President and CEO Betty Cockrum.
When HEA 1210 was signed into law in 2011, Planned Parenthood sought an injunction to block enforcement until appeals could be filed and won the legal challenge.
The Indiana attorney general’s office appealed to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and that ruling is still pending.
Republicans. Trying to kill poor women again.
Mitch Daniels has been an unmitigated disaster for Indiana. Glad to see that the Feds are beginning to see that.
I am glad it was ruled illigal, women who can not aford to have kids should not. It is not fair to the tax payers to spend 50k over 18 years to help raise a child, better so spend a couple hundred to nip the problem in the bud.
Them be Republicans for you. What a disgusting bunch of "people" (more like animals) for ya.
Typical nonsense. The law was designed to counteract the fraud that is the Hyde amendment rule. It's absolutely absurd to say that federal money can't go to abortions – supposedly standing law – but at the same time, allow funding to go to providers of abortions.
It is orders of magnitude simpler than Economics 101 to understand that when you use federal money to pay for other services provided by that abortion provider, you then free up the money from other sources for use on abortions. The two faced slight of hand is just dishonest.
These clowns should either say they want to pay for abortions with federal money, or not, but if they are going to say no, it has to actually mean no.
Another defeat for the American Taliban. It is going to be a long year for you reptilian shapeshifters.
Just another third world state trying to turn back the clock women's rights and common sense medical approaches! Didn't Indiana also decide not to teach cursive writing anymore? What next, creationism only classrooms??
hmmm never ceases to amaze me how they complain about government interference, and then try to legislate someone's uterus
GOP loses again. When will they try to move the country forward instead of backwards
So are we to assume all the good people of Indiana will adopt and raise the children women would have had aborted for various reasons? Please sign up and get in line for a baby.
Hey Indiana (and Governor Daniels)...where are the jobs?
Sadly, the religious nuts are once again trying to restrict funds that go not toward abortion, which would be a violation of federal law, but to general preventative care just because the same place offers abortions.
Furthermore, even the bible shows a difference between the killing of the unborn and murder:
If you cause a woman to miscarry, you shall pay the father 10 shekels of silver.
The penalty for murder is death.
Mind you neither is condoned but it is a far cry from murder.
Why must conservatives focus on something like abortion? They seem to believe that their values are better (or more important) than everyone else's. How do they figure that?
There are some really sick politicians in Indiana.
Isn't it nice to see the United States is slowly, all be it by being being dragged kicking and screaming, advancing into a fully modern first world country.
Republicans are working on jobs, jobs, jobs, by which I mean, abortion. Don't pi$$ off the women, Republicans, things just dont go well.
YES! Hey teapugs, stay away from my health choices!
The conservative, Evangelical plot is starting to fall apart. Women are standing up for their privacy and their rights – regardless of what radicals from the Christian right-wing and Tea Party try to slip into the law.
Indiana's Republicans seem to ne so in love with the Middle Ages they want to go back!!
This upholds the often repeated aim of the GOP that women have full choice in their medical care providers, that government should not prevent women from having full freedom of choice in their medical care.
If only the GOP would put the same energy into helping the economy as they do for fighting abortion...
Would they rather them be forced to have the children and leech off of the government for Food Stamps and Medical Bills from whenever they have the children instead? I think this is the cheaper route,
boring......noone wants to read this
The war on women by the GOP continues. Hey GOP, Roe v. Wade is settled LAW, back the eff off! If you sub-humans want a Theocracy soooo badly, move to Iran.