By Associated Press/The Washington Post
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s decision to deny Planned Parenthood Medicaid funds because it performs abortions denies women the freedom to choose their health care providers, a federal hearing officer said.
The state had asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Chicago to reconsider its June 2011 ruling that found changes in Indiana’s Medicaid plan unacceptable. But a hearing officer recommended in documents released Friday that a CMS administrator uphold the agency’s initial decision.
The changes to Indiana’s plan resulted from a 2011 law that would have made the state the first to deny the organization Medicaid funds for general health services, including cancer screenings. The law has been on hold while the dispute works its way through the courts.
The Indiana attorney general’s office, which already is appealing a federal judge’s order blocking the law, said it may also contest the panel’s recommendation. The state had argued that the dispute should be decided administratively by the CMS, not in court.
“Because this is a recommendation, the Attorney General’s Office has a chance to file an exception to it before the CMS administrator makes a final decision,” the agency said in a statement.