Planned Parenthood won and abortion opponents lost when an administrative hearing officer ruled last week that the Indiana General Assembly wrongly cut off financing for Planned Parenthood. But this was just a preliminary skirmish over an issue that will likely be resolved in the federal courts.
A hearing officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services determined that the states decision violated the federal requirement that Medicaid recipients have power to choose their medical care providers. Planned Parenthood of Indiana says that more than 9,000 women each year rely on the organization for Pap tests, sexually transmitted disease screening, breast exams, birth control and other services that have nothing to do with abortion. Federal law prohibits federal money going toward abortions.
State legislators and abortion opponents argued that Medicaid money going to Planned Parenthood for other health services indirectly supports abortion, but the hearing officer ruled that nothing in the law prohibits financing covered services if the same provider also offers non-covered services.
But the hearing officers ruling was only a step in a long journey. The state and Planned Parenthood needed to exhaust administrative appeals before returning to federal court.