Feds stand up for Hoosier health 

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  • Elizabeth Cromwell, Wikimedia Commons

While Indiana's government seems to have lost interest in the well-being of its constituents, the big names in Washington are speaking up. The New York Times reported Monday that President Obama's administration is raising objections to the recent enrollment of HEA 1210, which stripped Planned Parenthood and organizations like it of federal funds.

According to The Times:

The changes in Indiana are subject to federal review and approval, and administration officials have made it clear they will not approve the changes in the form adopted by the state.

Federal officials have 90 days to act but may feel pressure to act sooner because Indiana is already enforcing its law, which took effect on May 10, and because legislators in other states are working on similar measures.

If a state Medicaid program is not in compliance with federal law and regulations, federal officials can take corrective action, including “the total or partial withholding” of federal Medicaid money. The mere threat of such a penalty is often enough to get states to comply. Actually imposing the penalty would, in many cases, hurt the very people whom Medicaid is intended to help.

Administration officials said the Indiana law imposed impermissible restrictions on the freedom of Medicaid recipients to choose health care providers.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have said they are in the process of reviewing the situation. The scrutiny adds gravitas to the suit Planned Parenthood brought against the restrictions in a U.S. District Court; the report continues:

The federal government is not a party in the case, but the administration’s statement sends a signal to the court, which will hold a hearing in two weeks on whether to block the state law.

Though the law is technically in effect, Planned Parenthood of Indiana has used donated funds to extend services to Medicaid patients until May 30. The injunction hearing is scheduled for June 6 in Indianapolis.

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