Republicans Senators are protesting the Obama administration’s refusal to approve Indiana’s Medicaid funding plan because it restricts payments to health care providers who perform abortion providers. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) disapproved Indiana’s Medicaid State Plan last week. In response, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee Sen. Orrin Hatch and 27 other senators sent a letter on Thursday to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick asking him to reconsider the decision.
The Senators asked Mr. Berwick for a “swift reconsideration” of Indiana’s proposal which prevents “taxpayer dollars from subsidizing the operational costs of abortions.” They wrote that his decision “represents a significant departure from Medicaid’s longstanding practice of having the states – not the federal government – set reasonable standards for qualified providers.”
Indiana’s law — which governed how its Medical plan was structured — closed a loophole that circumvented the Hyde Amendment and allowed taxpayer dollars to support organizations that perform abortions. The law is directed at Planned Parenthood, which, according to a legal brief by the state attorney general, “commingles Medicaid reimbursements with other revenues it receives.” The law specifies that taxpayer dollars, such as Medicaid, cannot be given to “any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed” (except hospitals and surgical centers.)
Fearing that Mr. Berwick’s decision was the first step by the White House in cutting off Medicaid funding to states that do not support abortions, the GOP Senators also demanded that Mr. Berwick continue to send Medicaid monies to Indiana.
“While the Obama Administration’s view on the appropriateness of sending taxpayer dollars to Medicaid providers that perform abortions may differ from the view of the State of Indiana, we trust that you will not jeopardize care for more than a million Hoosiers over this ideology,” the letter said. “Given CMS’ recent informational bulletin issued to all states on this issue, we certainly hope that you are not actually considering jeopardizing care for the nation’s 70 million Medicaid beneficiaries over this ideological difference.”
Mr. Hatch’s letter was cosigned by Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, Mike Crapo, Jon Kyl, Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, Mike Johanns, Roy Blunt, Jim Inhofe, Dan Coats, James Risch, John Hoeven, Kelly Ayotte, Jim Moran, Richard Burr, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions, Dean Heller, Tom Coburn, Pat Roberts, Richard Lugar, John Thune, John McCain, Bob Corker, John Barrasso, John Cornyn and Mike Enzi.
The letter to Mr. Berwick closed with the Senators giving their full support for Indiana’s law “to prevent taxpayer dollars from subsidizing the operational costs of abortions and more broadly, we support the right of states to administer their Medicaid programs in a manner consistent with the values and needs of their citizens.”