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Health Care / HEALTH CARE

Indiana Defies Federal Government on Planned Parenthood

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.(Chet Susslin)

June 2, 2011

Indiana officials said Thursday they will defy a federal order to continue funding Planned Parenthood and other clinics that offer abortion services.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a law in May that would cut off federal funding from Indiana clinics that perform abortions. The law is primarily aimed at the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics, which get federal family planning grants to administer services unrelated to abortion.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick said on Wednesday the federal government could not endorse the  law because it restricts access to a range of important family planning services. Federal money cannot be spent directly on abortion services anyway, but most clinics that offer abortion also offer other family planning and health services, from breast cancer screening to birth control advice.

 

Indiana says it will implement the amendment despite Berwick's warning.

"The way the law was written, it went into effect the moment the governor signed it," Marcus Barlow, a spokesman for Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration, said in a telephone interview.

"We were just advised by our lawyers that we should continue to enforce Indiana law."

The Kansas state legislature has also passed a budget that takes away state funding for Planned Parenthood, and North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin are preparing similar measures.

"We fully expect Indiana to comply with the law," Berwick said in an interview Thursday.

The federal government has a big enforcement stick—$4 billion in its share to Indiana for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance plan for the poor. "We’ve sent out a bulletin to all of the states notifying them of the finding in Indiana. And I expect that states will comply," Berwick said.

CMS says states may not stop beneficiaries from getting treatment such as cancer screenings and preventive care just because their provider offers other services, such as abortion.

Planned Parenthood has sued Indiana over the legislation, and a hearing on the matter is scheduled for Monday before U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, who has said she would rule by July 1.

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