INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s decision to deny Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood because it performs abortions denies women the freedom to choose their health care providers, a federal hearing officer has concluded.
The state had asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Chicago to reconsider its June 2011 ruling that found changes in Indiana’s Medicaid plan unacceptable.
But a hearing officer recommended in documents released Friday that an administrator for the centers uphold the agency’s initial decision.
The changes to Indiana’s plan resulted from a 2011 law that would have made the state the first to deny the organization Medicaid funds for general health services, including cancer screenings. The law has been on hold while the dispute works its way through the courts.
The Indiana attorney general’s office, which is appealing a federal judge’s order blocking the law, said it may also contest the panel’s recommendation.
The state had argued that the dispute should be decided administratively by the centers, not in court.
‘‘Because this is a recommendation, the attorney general’s office has a chance to file an exception to it before the CMS administrator makes a final decision,’’ the agency said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana said it was gratified by the decision.
‘‘Through its appeal, the State was continuing its attack on women’s rights and attempting to restrict access to basic, lifesaving services such as Pap tests, breast exams, STD testing and treatment, and birth control,’’ Betty Cockrum, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said in a statement.