Thursday, 21 March 2013

Lawsuit Alleges $377 Million Planned Parenthood Fraud in Washington State

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A pro-life legal advocacy group has made public a lawsuit it filed in 2011 against Planned Parenthood, alleging that the abortion giant defrauded the taxpayers of Washington State out of hundreds of millions of dollars. In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) charges that Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest submitted “repeated false, fraudulent, and/or ineligible claims for reimbursement” to the state's Department of Social and Health Services. ADF filed the suit on behalf of Washington resident Jonathan Bloedow, who discovered the alleged frauds through the state's open records law.

Under the federal False Claims Act, “whistleblowers” having inside information can expose fraudulent billing by government contractors. In announcing the nearly two-year-old suit, ADF explained that under the law such cases must initially be filed under seal and may not be made public while federal authorities decide whether to join the case.

In the suit Bloedow charges that Planned Parenthood's Northwest affiliate submitted false claims to Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services and its Health and Recovery Services Administration (HRSA), which runs the state’s Title XIX Medicaid program. Over an extended period Planned Parenthood allegedly filed at least 25,000 false claims with HRSA for reimbursements in excess of the amount allowed for oral contraceptive pills, along with at least 25,000 more false claims for reimbursements in excess of the amount allowed for “emergency contraceptives” such as “Plan B” under the federal government’s 340B drug reimbursement program. According to ADF, the alleged fraud could account for over $377 million.

In a press release ADF said that Bloedow’s allegations are consistent with a 2011 Government Accountability Office report that concluded HRSA's monitoring of the 340B program “was inadequate and recommended that 'HRSA take steps to strengthen oversight regarding program participation and compliance with program requirements.'”

In 2012, ADF released to the public a report it had prepared for the U.S. Congress that exposed nearly $100 million in waste, abuse, and possible fraud committed by Planned Parenthood affiliates across the nation. The October 2011 report, prepared in partnership with the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, concluded that, “based on the publicly available audits summarized herein and confirmed by our confidential sources, Planned Parenthood’s primary motivation is to take advantage of ‘over-billing’ opportunities to maximize its revenues in complex, well-funded federal and state programs that are understaffed and rely on the integrity of the provider for program compliance. Thus, Planned Parenthood’s primary motivation appears not to be to provide quality healthcare to patients who seek family planning services, but rather to enhance its profits.”

The report identifies a dozen types of potential fraud committed by Planned Parenthood affiliates across the nation, including billing and being reimbursed by Title XIX agencies for medications and/or services provided in connection with an abortion. Under federal law, tax monies may not be used for any service connected to an abortion procedure.

Other alleged fraud by Planned Parenthood cited in the report included "billing in excess of actual acquisition cost or other approved costs for contraceptives and Plan B ... products;" "inappropriately billing for services that were not medically necessary;" "billing for multiple initial prenatal care visits;" and "incorrectly billing initial, follow-up, and postpartum services.”

A group of at least 72 congressmen, led by Representatives Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Pete Olson (R-Texas), have been pressing for a full congressional investigation into how Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, has spent more than $2.3 billion in federal taxpayer dollars over the past few years.

ADF Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton, a former U.S. attorney, said it is high time the American people get some clear answers on Planned Parenthood funding. “Americans deserve to know, especially in economic times like these, if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it,” Norton said. “Compliance with the law should not be sacrificed for the sake of Planned Parenthood’s bottom line. They have cheated the American taxpayer for too long. It’s time the abortion giant is held accountable.”

In 2011-2012, according to its own records, Planned Parenthood performed a record-high 333,964 abortions while receiving over $542 million in taxpayer funding — nearly half the organization's budget. In January, Representative Black introduced a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, an effort that is being aggressively opposed by the abortion giant and its high-level supporters — including President Obama. Among his actions on behalf of Planned Parenthood, the president has deployed the federal Department of Justice to help overturn state laws defunding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

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