(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.
Our bodies, Our babies, Our choice!
I'd have to read the law itself, but it sounds like it was targeted specifically at medical facilities run by Planned Parenthood on other such organizations.
"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." Pretty straight forward there. Private groups, even private medical businesses that provide female health services, would be washed out and everything forced into the large hospital assembly lines.
The current federal laws prohibit the use of medicare dollars for any abortion except those that are preventative in nature (the pregnancy would pose significant risk to the mothers health or life). Why does Indiana feel the need to restrict it further?
This law makes total sense to me. Why spend Medicaid money on abortions when we can spend the Medicaid money for the next 18 years on the child if it's born. Then we can provide welfare, food stamps, subsidized housing, come on. If we just abort the kid, how can we offer it all the other great benefits?
Where's the freedom, GOP?
Funny, this sounds like Republicans wanting to stand between the public and their choice of medical practicioner. Isn't that what they complained the Affordable Care Act would do and why they so vehemently opposed it?
Planned Parenthood is more than abortion (unlike kyl's number itls NOT 98% of where the money goes, but according to him he doesn't know a darn about figures. That's just what he thinks).
Then again, the teapublikkkans hate women unless they are their party's bunch of conservative lying witches.
As they the Republicans want you to have them and the Democrats are willing to pay for them.
Way to go, Indiana – not only block women from having abortions, but block them from having any kind of education, counseling, and services that could keep them from becoming pregnant and, if pregnant, keep them from having prenatal care. Let's say it one more time: 1) It's been illegal to use Federal Funds for abortion since the 1970s. 2) Not all low income women's clinics provide abortions. 3) ALL low income clinics provide women's health services including: contraception, education, counseling for ALL issues (ie – not just counseling for abortions), pap smears, physical exams, prenatal care, cancer screenings, and referrals to specialists for ALL issues (ie, not just abortions.) For hundreds of thousands of women, these clinics are their ONLY access to affordable health care. Get a clue, people.
In most (all?) states, abortion is illegal anyway if the health of the mother is not affected. If anyone bothers to read the ruling, you'll see the Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion for health related (mental health included) reasons only.
If breast exams, PAP smears and birth control is Planned Parenthood's stated purpose, why do they insist on dedicating so much of their effort to abortion? Whenever the subject of abortion comes up, they side-step the issue by talking about other services. I never hear them talk about abortion directly. Why is that?
So instead of Medicare money for an abortion, the child can be sustained on Welfare for its entire life? Sounds like a well thought out plan, vice a religious based decision. There are more religious zealots in the US than in the entire Middle East.
Where is my right to not have taxes taking out of my pay for medicare? Where is my right to not have taxes taking out of my pay that go to low income programs? I am fed up with them raping my income to transfer it to someone who doesn't have a desire to work.
Just another reason to vote out all right wing nuts in November. From the local to the national level all right wing GOPers must not be elected or re-elected.
The GOP's War on Women is disgusting.
The people who wrote and passed this law should be banned from ever holding office.