Indiana Moving Ahead With Planned Parenthood Defund Despite Order From Feds

Officials in Indiana say they will continue to implement a law that cuts all federal funding for Planned Parenthood in the state, despite a warning from the Department of Health and Human Services that the law violates the rules of Medicaid.

Marcus J. Barlow, spokesman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said they are consulting with the state Attorney General on how to proceed. “The way the law was written, it went into effect the moment the governor signed it,” Barlow told the National Journal. “We were just advised by our lawyers that we should continue to enforce Indiana law.”Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) signed a bill in May that stripped Planned Parenthood of all federal funding because it provides abortions, even though the federal funds cannot be spent directly on abortions.

In a letter obtained by the Associated Press Wednesday, Medicaid Administrator Donald M. Berwick of the DHHS told Patricia Cassanova, the director of Indiana’s office of Medicaid Policy and Planning, that the law illegally blocks Medicaid recipients from receiving services.

“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 in the letter. “Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers.”

From the AP:

Berwick writes in his letter that Indiana should change its plan to conform with federal law, noting that the state has 60 days to appeal. The letter does not state it explicitly, but Indiana could face penalties if it does not comply. In the past, state Medicaid plans that did not conform with federal law have been changed by states before HHS enforced any penalties.

A spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller told the AP that they are reviewing the letter but “we will continue to defend the statute.”

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