Federal Government Says Indiana Medicaid Law Illegal

A recent debate on Fox News between Ford O’Connell and Jehmu Greene (video below) forshadowed yesterday’s response from HHS to the state of Indiana on the topic of  Indiana’s recently enacted law to bar public funding to Planned Parenthood. While supporting the Indiana legislature’s pro-life stance, Mr. O’Connell pointed out the uncertain legal ground for the legislation and predicted that it faced an uphill battle in the expected administrative and court challenges. O’Connell pointed out that the law was drawn too narrowly to pass muster with the federal law governing the use of Medicaid funding.

The AP is now reporting that HHS has sent a letter to Indiana’s Medicaid director asking Indiana to comply with federal law:

“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,” Berwick wrote in a letter to Patricia Cassanova, the director of Indiana’s office of Medicaid Policy and Planning. “Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers.”

Indiana legislators and the state’s Attorney General are pushing back, but the HHS interpretation of the federal law seems to be pretty clear:

In a letter sent to Indiana’s Medicaid director, Medicaid Administrator Donald M. Berwick said Indiana’s plan will improperly bar beneficiaries from receiving services. Federal law requires Medicaid beneficiaries to be able to obtain services from any qualified provider.

“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,” Berwick wrote in a letter to Patricia Cassanova, the director of Indiana’s office of Medicaid Policy and Planning. “Such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers.”

Read the entire Associated Press story.

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