Berwick Threatens to Cut Off All Medicaid Funding to Indiana Because the State Barred Taxpayer Funding of Abortion

By James Zilenziger | June 10, 2011 | 3:29pm EDT

Dr. Donald Berwick (Photo from Harvard University School of Public Health Web site)

(CNSNews.com) - Dr. Donald Berwick, the administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is threatening to cut off all Medicaid funds to Indiana after Hoosier lawmakers passed a measure (HEA 1210) to prevent taxpayer dollars from subsidizing the operational costs of abortions.

“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,” Berwick wrote in a letter to Patricia Casanova, the director of Medicaid policy and planning for the state of Indiana.

However, 28 senators, led by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) Thursday sent a letter to Berwick advising him against cutting Indiana’s Medicaid funds.

“We ask for your swift reconsideration of Indiana’s SPA 11-110,” the senators wrote. “Indiana’s proposal should not only be approved, we believe it serves as an important model for every state. We fully support the intent of HEA 1210 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.”

The 28 Republicans said that there is a loophole in current federal law that has allowed taxpayer money to be used to support abortions at clinics operated by Planned Parenthood.

“According to a recent legal memorandum filed by Indiana’s Attorney General,  ‘[Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s] audited financial statements for 2009 and 2010 give rise to a reasonable inference that it commingles Medicaid reimbursements with other revenues it receives…’”

Berwick’s letter of warning was issued to all states. The 28 Republicans say his action endangers the care of the 70 million Americans on Medicaid.

“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.”

In addition to Hatch, the letter was signed by: Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), James Risch (R-Idaho), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Jim Moran (R-Kan.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).  

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