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Appeals Court panel rejects Indiana’s Medicaid funding limitations

by | Oct 24, 2012

‘By Dave Andrusko

A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s finding that Indiana violated federal regulations when it passed a law that denies state-directed funding for businesses and organizations performing abortions, except for hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers.

Tuesday’s decision comes just three days after U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake issued a temporary injunction preventing the state of Arizona from implementing a new law that bars the state from contracting with or making a grant to any entity that performs an abortion or maintains an abortion facility.

Mary Spaulding Balch, JD,  NRLC’s director of State Legislation, told NRL News Today, “A state is not required to subsidize abortion, directly or indirectly, and is totally within its right when it passes laws to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to the abortion industry.”  She pointed out that an appeals court upheld a similar Texas law, adding, “There is no right, constitutional or otherwise, to have taxpayers pay for abortion.”

“The most troubling aspect of the decision is that now the Indiana taxpayers are being forced by court order to continue to pay for abortions,” Balch said. “Whether it’s direct or indirect, Planned Parenthood is going to have more money to spend that will enable them to do more abortions.”

Planned Parenthood of Indiana, working hand in hand with the ACLU, challenged the law immediately. In June 2011District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt blocked the state from enforcing the law, citing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ rejection of the state’s plan. “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,” CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick had written Patricia Cassanova.

Indiana immediately appealed Judge Pratt’s injunction, “arguing that federal law says Medicaid cannot be used to cover abortions in most circumstances and that the program indirectly funds the procedures by providing money for Planned Parenthood,” the Associated Press reported.     “The defunding law excludes Planned Parenthood from Medicaid for a reason unrelated to its fitness to provide medical services, violating its patients’ statutory right to obtain medical care from the qualified provider of their choice,” the ruling said.

Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the Indiana attorney general’s office, told the AP that the state was reviewing the appeals court opinion. The state can either ask the full court to review the panel’s ruling or appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

Categories: Judicial