[JURIST] A federal hearing officer has recommended that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) [official website] in Chicago uphold its initial decision rejecting an Indiana state law [HEA 1210 text] that denies Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) [advocacy website] and other organizations providing abortion services. A CMS officer found last June that the denial of funds violated federal law [AP report], but the state has asked the agency to reconsider its decision. In a statement, PPIN praised the decision of the CMS officer to maintain its medicaid funding:
We are gratified by the federal government’s decision and thrilled that PPIN continues to be able to provide preventive health care to our patients. Through its appeal, the State was continuing its attack on women’s rights and attempting to restrict access to basic, lifesaving services such as Pap tests, breast exams, STD testing and treatment, and birth control.
Because the decision of the CMS officer is just a recommendation, the Indiana Attorney General will have an opportunity to respond before the agency makes its final decision.
Last June a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] halting enforcement of the controversial law after PPIN filed suit. Indiana has argued that the issue should be settled through the agency rather than in federal court. In May 2011 a federal judge refused to block the law [JURIST report] upon its passage. The court’s ruling in June of last year, however, was in line with a US Department of Justice (DOJ) brief that urged the court to grant an injunction [brief, PDF] to stop the enforcement of the law [JURIST report], which took effect in May. The brief echoed arguments made earlier that year by the Obama administration, which argued against the law [JURIST report] in a letter to the state.