MILLER: Obama’s abortion extortion

Indiana’s Medicaid funds withheld on behalf of Planned Parenthood

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President Obama is holding $4 billion in Medicaid funding hostage in an effort to force Indiana taxpayers to underwrite the biggest threat to unborn life: abortion. On June 1, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) disapproved Indiana’s Medicaid State Plan over a new state law restricting taxpayer subsidies for abortion mills.

On Thursday, 28 Senate Republicans fired off a letter demanding CMS Administrator Donald Berwick reconsider. “If this administration cuts off all of Indiana’s Medicaid matching funds, that would be an outright declaration that it cares more about the abortion lobby than about allowing states to run their own programs free of Washington interference,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Senate Finance Committee’s ranking member, told The Washington Times.

In early May, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels closed a loophole meant to circumvent the Hyde Amendment and funnel taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, an organization which “commingles Medicaid reimbursements with other revenues it receives,” according to the state’s attorney general. Planned Parenthood of Indiana performed 5,580 abortions in 2010 and received more than $2 million in government funding, according to its annual report. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America.

Indiana’s statute is the first in the nation to cut off Medicaid funding and other sources of tax dollars for “any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed” (except hospitals and surgical centers). Medicaid, a mandated health program for the poor, is jointly funded by federal and state taxpayers. Planned Parenthood immediately filed suit against the state in federal court over the law. U. S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt said she will decide by July 1 if Indiana must reinstate Medicaid funding to abortion providers.

Mr. Berwick’s June 1 had said Indiana’s plan for Medicaid funding was denied until abortion law is rescinded. “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,” Mr. Berwick wrote to Indiana in the rejection letter. He added that “such a restriction would have a particular effect on beneficiaries’ ability to access family planning providers.”

The CMS decision was based on a narrow interpretation of Title XIX of the Social Security Act which claims women will be cut off from other health procedures if Planned Parenthood doesn’t receive funding from the public. “Given the concerning loopholes in funding family planning facilities that also perform abortions, Indiana has the right to ensure taxpayer dollars do not fund operational costs for abortions through facilities such as Planned Parenthood,” Mr. Hatch countered.

Hoosiers have every right to deny giving their tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, which can’t provide any certainty to pro-lifers that the dollars used to turn on the lights aren’t being used to terminate babies. “In trying to protect the financial bottom line of the abortion industry, the Obama administration once again demonstrates its goal of imposing a radical abortion agenda on the nation,” David N. O’Steen, executive director of National Right to Life, told The Washington Times.

Indiana needs to continue fighting back and stop this pro-abortion president from wielding his political power against the unborn. Our freedom means very little if the most fundamental right of all - the right to life itself - isn’t protected.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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