WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 2011 ( – A cadre of pro-life senators have stood up in opposition to threat by the Obama administration’s head of Medicare and Medicaid to strip Indiana of health monies over the state’s decision to cut funding to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.

Twenty-eight U.S. Senators led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Thursday sent a letter to Donald Berwick, Medicaid Administrator, defending Indiana’s ban on taxpayer funds going to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. 

Berwick on June 1 said that a law signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels last month to cut off abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood from federal funding in the state was illegal under the Social Security Act. Therefore, he said, the administration may choose to cut off all $4 billion in Medicaid funds to the state.

The senators, however, say Indiana’s law is consistent with the federal Medicaid statute, and defend the rights of states to manage their own Medicaid programs. The senators point to a Senate Report which stated that apparent restrictions in the Social Security Act are “not intended to preclude a State from establishing, under State law, any other bases for excluding individuals or entities from its Medicaid program.” (View the letter here.)

Berwick’s “narrow interpretation of Title XIX of the Social Security Act,” said the senators, “represents a significant departure from Medicaid’s longstanding practice of having the states – not the federal government – set reasonable standards for qualified providers.”

Berwick’s threat “is simply the latest example of this Administration’s alarming pattern of usurping states’ authority to manage their Medicaid programs in a way that best meet the needs of their citizens,” they said.

The senators who signed the letter were: Hatch, Grassley, Crapo, Kyl, Lee, DeMint, Paul, Johanns, Blunt, Inhofe, Coats, Risch, Hoeven, Ayotte, Moran, Burr, Graham, Sessions, Heller, Coburn, Roberts, Lugar, Thune, McCain, Corker, Barrasso, Cornyn, and Enzi. 

After a June 2 New York Times editorial blasted the law as “punish[ing] thousands of low-income women on Medicaid,” Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser responded in a letter to the editor saying that a realistic look at health care access in Indiana tells a different story.

According to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, as cited by Dannenfelser, there are approximately 800 provider locations eligible to provide Medicaid clients with nonabortion services in the 21 counties affected by the law.

“By proposing to cut off all of Indiana’s Medicaid funding, it is the Obama administration that is acting dangerously by jeopardizing the health care of women,” she wrote. “The Obama administration should respect the will of Hoosiers and let them manage their own Medicaid program.”