Federal Hearing Officer Recommends Rejecting Ind. Request To Block Medicaid Funds to Planned Parenthood

July 9, 2012 — CMS should uphold its decision to reject Indiana's request enforce a state law that would bar Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood, a CMS hearing officer stated in documents released on Friday, the AP/CBS News reports (AP/CBS News, 7/8).

The Indiana law prohibits the distribution of state and federal Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood of Indiana and other providers who offer abortion care (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/21/11).

CMS in June 2011 informed the state that the law is unacceptable. In addition, a federal judge blocked the law from taking effect; the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the state's request to lift the preliminary injunction.

Officer's Recommendation

The state has argued that the dispute should be resolved through CMS, rather than through the courts. In the documents released on Friday, CMS hearing officer Benjamin Cohen recommended that the agency uphold its initial decision because the law would deny women the freedom to choose a health care provider.

Cohen said the law violates the federal requirement that Medicaid beneficiaries be permitted to obtain care from any qualified provider, regardless of whether the state approves of non-covered care.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office "has a chance to file an exception to [the recommendation] before the CMS administrator makes a final decision," CMS said in a statement.

Betty Cockrum, CEO of PPIN, said, "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, [sexually transmitted infection] testing and treatment, and birth control" (AP/CBS News, 7/8).