(Photo: Reuters / Larry Downing)
A group of 28 senators sent a letter to President Obama’s Medicaid Administrator Thursday defending Indiana’s ban on federal tax dollars going to clinics that provide abortion.
The senators, led by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), argue that Indiana’s new law is consistent with the federal Medicaid Statute. Also, the group of powerful senators defended the rights of states to manage their own Medicaid programs.
“We disagree with your narrow interpretation of Title XIX of the Social Security Act and believe this represents a significant departure from Medicaid’s longstanding practices of having the states – not the federal government – set reasonable standards for qualified providers,” reads the letter.
“Unfortunately, your decision is simply the latest example of this Administration’s alarming pattern of usurping states’ authority to manage their Medicaid programs in ways that best meet the needs of their citizens.”
In May, Indiana became the first state in the nation to ban taxpayer funds, mostly in the form of Medicaid payments, from goin to clinics that provide abortions. The law would most visibly affect Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
In response, Obama’s Medicaid administrator, Donald Berwick, recently sent a letter to Indiana threatening to cut off Medicaid funding if the state enforces the new law defunding Planned Parenthood. The letter was also sent to the other 49 states as a warning that their Medicaid funding could be cut off if they follow Indiana’s lead.
Other states that are fighting a battle similar to Indiana include: Tennessee, New Jersey, Kansas and Texas.
“These senators (in the letter) reject the ideologically driven legal argument set forth by Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. “In enthusiastically backing then-candidate Obama, Planned Parenthood made only its second presidential endorsement in its history.
“Candidate Obama promised to make Planned Parenthood’s priorities his own, and this is President Obama following through.”
The group of senators said that while the Obama Administration’s view of giving Medicaid funding to providers that perform abortion is different, “we trust that you will not jeopardize care for more than a million Hoosiers over this ideology.”
Besides Hatch, other senators that signed the letter include John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).