U.S. government says Indiana’s Medicaid plan is illegal

June 1, 2011

AP and City Room Staff

(Flickr/S. Mirk)
A protestor at a rally to support Planned Parenthood in Portland, OR in February.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services told the state of Indiana Wednesday that its Medicaid plan, which bans funding to Planned Parenthood, is illegal and must be changed.

In a letter sent to Indiana's Medicaid director, Medicaid Administrator Donald M. Berwick says Indiana's plan will prevent beneficiaries from receiving services. Berwick writes that federal law requires that Medicaid beneficiaries be able to obtain services from any qualified provider.

The notification comes after Indiana passed a law in April banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood, a reproductive health care provider that offers testing for sexually transmitted infections and access to birth control and abortions. Indiana’s conservatives took issue with federal funds being applied to an organization that provides abortions, even though U.S. law already prohibits using federal funds to pay for the procedure.

Several states, including Kansas, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Texas, are considering similar funding bans. Indiana may face penalties if it does not change its plan to conform to federal law.