INDIANAPOLIS - On Monday, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a legal brief in Indiana's appeal of Planned Parenthood's court challenge involving Medicaid funding qualifications and abortion providers. The Attorney General's brief asks the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to reverse a lower court ruling that has blocked enforcement of the new provider-qualifications law.
In appealing a federal judge's June 24 preliminary injunction, the State argues that the responsibility for ensuring the State's provider qualifications comply with the Medicaid Act does not belong with a private clinic or a federal district court -- instead it belongs with a federal agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS. After CMS did not approve Indiana's Medicaid plan that withheld Medicaid funding for abortion providers, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) filed its own separate administrative appeal of CMS' decision. A hearing on the FSSA's request for reconsideration is scheduled for September 13 at the CMS regional office in Chicago.
"This dispute belongs between the state and the federal government that administers and funds the Medicaid program, not between a private contractor and the state. The proper place to argue this dispute is the federal government's own administrative hearing process, established for exactly this purpose. We hope the 7th Circuit will agree, reverse the U.S. District Court's decision and allow the administrative review to run its course," Zoeller said.
By law, the Indiana Attorney General's Office defends state statutes passed by the Legislature from legal challenges filed by plaintiffs. House Enrolled Act 1210 prohibited Medicaid funds from being distributed to non-hospital clinics that provide abortion services. On May 10, the day HEA 1210 was signed into law, Planned Parenthood and ACLU filed a legal challenge, seeking to prevent the new statute from being enforced. On June 24, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation of two parts of the new law.
While the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals considers Zoeller's appeal of the injunction ruling -- a process called an interlocutory appeal -- the overall case in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis does not proceed in the meantime.
The interlocutory appeal brief Zoeller filed Monday sets forth the State's legal reasons for asking the 7th Circuit to vacate the federal district court's injunction. Among other points, the State contends that the Medicaid Act permits it to establish provider qualifications, including qualifications that prevent subsidy of abortions. Furthermore, HEA 1210 would allow Planned Parenthood to receive Medicaid payments even if it is affiliated with an abortion clinic, so long as the abortion clinic is a separate corporate entity and there is no risk that taxpayer revenues might indirectly subsidize abortion procedures. Providers that offer other family planning services and other health services still can receive Medicaid dollars under the new statute, provided the organization does not provide abortion services.
NOTE: The State's brief filed Monday in the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is at this link.
An audio clip of the Attorney General commenting on the case is at this link.
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