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Obama Admin Denies Indiana Request to De-Fund Planned Parenthood

by Steven Ertelt | Indianapolis, IN | LifeNews.com | 6/1/11 5:06 PM

State

The Obama administration today denied Indiana’s use of its new state law that would deny millions in taxpayer dollars to the Indiana affiliate of the nation’s largest abortion business.

Governor Mitch Daniels signed the law, which would cut off anywhere from $2 million to $3 million the Planned Parenthood abortion business receives in federal funds via the Indiana government through Medicaid.

Daniels said that “any organization affected by this provision can resume receiving taxpayer dollars immediately by ceasing or separating its operations that perform abortions.”

However, the Obama administration has told the state it can’t implement the new law, with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick denying a request to deny funds saying the federal Medicaid law stipulates that states can’t exclude providers based on the services they provide.

“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,” Berwick wrote, according to National Journal. “We assume this decision is not unexpected.”

Berwick also said the law makes it so states can’t prohibit access to family planning, which is provided under federal law. His department released a memo advising states that they can’t exclude abortion providers from receiving taxpayer funds via Medicaid.

“Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers — whether an individual provider, a physician group, an outpatient clinic or a hospital — from providing services under the program because they separately provide abortion services,” Center for Medicaid Director Cindy Mann wrote in the memo.

Mike Fichter, the director of Indiana Right to Life, responded to the decision in comments to LifeNews.

“The Obama administration appears to be intent on trying to force Indiana to subsidize the business of abortion in direct contrast to the desires of the state legislature and the people of Indiana.  Indiana must refuse to be bullied by the federal government and must challenge this politically-charged determination with full vigor.  The state of Indiana has a right to determine how it will manage its Medicaid program and to select the providers it will partner with.  Planned Parenthood is not entitled to public funding,” he said.

The law also contains several pro-life provisions that directly affect abortion, such as banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on fetal pain and provisions to opt-out of abortion coverage in any state health exchanges required under the new federal health law, to require that women considering abortion be given full, factual information in writing, and to require doctors who do abortions, or their designees, to maintain local hospital admitting privileges in order to streamline access to emergency care for women injured by abortion.

Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of the law and filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis just hours after Daniels signed the legislation into law. It alleges the law would violate contracts already in place between it and the state and that it forces Planned Parenthood to choose between doing abortions and getting taxpayer funding.

However, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt declined to issue the injunction while she takes more time to analyze the legal issues involved in the lawsuit. That type of decision is usually an indicator that the judge will eventually issue a ruling against the party bringing the lawsuit.

In legal papers filed after the decision, the Indiana state government filed a memorandum of opposition to a motion for an injunction by Planned Parenthood of Indiana in an attempt to block three provisions of Indiana’s newly-enacted law. Indiana essentially says Planned Parenthood does not try to segregate its funds to ensure the taxpayer money is not paying for abortions.

The state argues that there is “no record that PPIN makes any effort to either segregate Medicaid reimbursements from other unrestricted revenue sources or to allocate the cost of its various lines of business, whether abortion, family planning, cancer screenings, or other services.”

“This indicates that, while PPIN may not receive Medicaid reimbursements directly related to abortions, the Medicaid reimbursements it does receive are pooled or comingled with other monies it receives and thus help to pay for total operational costs,” the state said, making it so abortions or costs related to abortions are indirectly funded.

In addition, the state argues that the new law serves the public interest in three ways:  the funding qualification provision prevents taxpayer dollars from indirectly funding abortions; it advances the State’s goals of encouraging women to choose childbirth over abortion, and the informed consent requirements ensure that women who choose abortion have all the information necessary to make an informed and voluntary decision.

“The state’s thorough and well-reasoned defense of HEA 1210 underscores that this new law is on solid legal footing,” Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter told LifeNews in response.

A federal judge will hear arguments on Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s motion for an injunction on June 6.