(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.
Yet another case where a court is telling elected legislators how they have to spend tax dollars.
I did not know that women were "property" in Indiana. Free the Indianapolis 500 !
Having grown up in Indiana, the fact that the state law even existed in the first place is no surprise.
Abortion clinics are just money machines. There are plenty of rich foundations that can use all those millions they collect towards paying for these abortions. Take for example Joyce Foundation, I read it currently has $760 million in assets and how about the Woods Fund of Chicago with $58 million in assets or more and Chicago Annenberg Challenge with millions, millions. Let me guess, these foundations rather our tax dollars pay for abortions as if women would have 1 abortion and that's it.
When will the GOP stay out of a womens choice to do as she pleases with her body? BACK THE F... OFF!!!
Roe v Wade guarantees a woman's right to choose. What is it about that Indiana doesn't get?
Planned parenthood is all about the $$$. They can care less about a woman's health.
get religion OUT OF POLITICS, this is a FREEDOM we hold dear here not FREEDOM as outline by some lunatics scriptures from a fairy tale
People–especially the poor–are nothing more than cattle to the GOP. Can't have our unskilled labor poor stop breeding more Wal-Mart slaves, now can we?
Excellent decision. It's time for Indiana to step out of the dark ages. If the Indiana state government won't do it on its own, then the federal government should step in and push them in the right direction.
This Republican assault on women is simply insane. I don't see how this is a good political play for them. They seem to want to alienate women, miniorities and gays.
WHY aren't abortions illegal after 20 weeks? Who needs that much time to decide? 20 weeks is SO close to being able to live outside the womb.
The trouble with the democrats is that they believe that their fellow men are all inherently good people and that in the final analysis The Truth Will Out.
That is funny. Another republican idea struck down. I cannot wait til Obama wins again and all you Romney zombies have to seek counseling, just like in 2008 when Obama beat McCain. You republicans are so deluded and everyone is finally waking up from slumber land. Have fun babies, sleep tight and don't let the Fox bite.
More of the Republican War on Women. Funny how their Presidential candidate was once a very strong supporter of Planned Parenthood when he was the moderate governor of Massachusetts. Of course, he was also strongly pro-choice until he had to meet the right-wing litmus test to run for President. These Republicans need to leave women alone to make their own reproductive and healthcare choices.
GOOD! Separation of church and state must be maintained.....it is high time that most of these state laws, aimed at restricting women's access to their legal choices, be tossed into the garbage where they belong.....
So they don't want their state Medicaid to pay for an abortion, but will instead, pay for all of the other expense, food, shelter, healthcare, etc....How many legislatures in Indiana went to the Department of Social Services and signed up to adopt one of these unwanted babies????
The republicans don't care. They want babies - to work their minimum wage jobs in a few years, and to fight their wars in a few years. That's all they want.
Good news. A sound and reasoned judgement
I enjoyed Indiana when I lived there in Columbus for more than a decade - but unfortunately, like Arizona, its electorate carries a heavy burden of radicals & extremists, a burden of course reflected in the lawmakers.
Finally. Sanity and the rights of women are restored.
there might be an inkling of hope for critical thinking after all
Score one for women's rights against the misogynist republicans of indiana.
The all religious zealots have no shame. They hate Islamic law but continue to try and force by legislation and bombs and murder there concept of what is christian law. Oh yeah, only they know what thier God has done and wants for everyone.
Sinners – – one and all.
The GOP at the state level will stop at nothing in its on-going war against women. Especially is this true concerning poor women. The federal hearing officer did the right thing. But, I supposs the anti-abortion fanatics will keep on trying to fight CMS in the courts. They won't succeed, but it's so sad that all the GOP run state governments are so intent on taking away a woman's right to control her own reproductive system. Haven't they got better things to do?