Indiana and HHS to Fight Over Planned Parenthood Funding

Indiana lawmakers recently enacted legislation barring Planned Parenthood from receiving money under the state’s Medicaid program. Earlier today, the Department of Health and Human Services informed Indiana that this restriction is illegal, and could jeopardize the state’s participation in Medicaid. Indiana does not appear ready to back down, however. The AP reports:

In a letter sent to Indiana’s Medicaid director, Medicaid Administrator Donald M. Berwick said Indiana’s plan will improperly bar beneficiaries from receiving services. Federal law requires Medicaid beneficiaries to be able to obtain services from any qualified provider.

“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 a letter to Patricia Cassanova, the director of Indiana’s office of Medicaid Policy and Planning. “Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers.” . . .

Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, said the letter was being reviewed to determine the state’s options but that “we will continue to defend the statute.”

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

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is already challenging the Indiana’s restriction in court. The Indianaoplis Star has more here.