Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified Indiana state officials that an Indiana law prohibiting state agencies from contracting with clinics offering abortions violates federal law. Governor Mitch Daniels (R) signed the law on May 10, and in April, the state Senate and House voted to cut about $2 million in federal money that goes to Planned Parenthood, much of which is for Medicaid services. HHS Medical Administrator Don Berwick clarified, “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.”
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated, “By issuing a letter to the state of Indiana rejecting its proposal to bar Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health care through Medicaid, HHS is sending a clear message that states cannot play politics with women’s health and prevent Medicaid patients form choosing their preferred health care providers. The new law in Indiana prevents nearly 10,000 women from accessing preventive health care, such as contraception, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment, from Planned Parenthood health centers.”
Last week, US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and twenty-nine other Senate Democrats issued a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting that HHS officials advise Medicaid directors not to implement measures to prevent Medicaid or Title X funding from going to clinics that offer abortion service.
Following the HHS decision to block the Indiana law to defund Planned Parenthood, Senator Blumenthal stated, “This step is a powerful, prompt rebuke to Indiana- and a strong warning to other states considering similar ill-advised and illegal action denying essential health care to women… I hope other state legislatures considering similarly misguided attempts to block women, teens, and families from the health care and family planning services they need and deserve will reconsider these dangerous proposals, and I remain committed to standing up for women’s health.”