HOUSTON — An investigation into the Medicaid billing practices of a Texas-area chapter of Planned Parenthood has resulted in the organization being found responsible for committing fraud, and will cost the abortion provider $1.4 million.
The payment surrounds a settlement that was reached with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which had been sued by a former employee who alleged that the organization was cheating the system. The lawsuit turned into an official investigation conducted by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of the Inspector General.
“The State’s investigation revealed that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast improperly billed the Texas Medicaid program for products and services that were never actually rendered, not medically necessary, and were not covered by the Medicaid program–and were therefore not eligible for reimbursement,” Abbott’s office wrote in a news release on Wednesday.
“[S]tate investigators determined that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast falsified material information in patients’ medical records in order to support fraudulent reimbursement claims to the Medicaid program,” it added.
The $1.4 million payment will be split between the state and federal government, as well as to the whistle blower employee. Planned Parenthood denies the allegations, but says it agreed to the settlement so that the matter would not linger on nor result in higher legal fees.
“Continuing this litigation in the hostile environment for women’s health would have ensured a lengthy and costly process that would have distracted our energies and required us to share the private medical information of thousands of women,” Planned Parenthood representative Rochelle Tafolla said in a statement on behalf of the organization. “We are ending this lawsuit in order to devote all of our time and energy to delivering high quality affordable health care.”
However, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says that Planned Parenthood’s practices involving Medicaid are not isolated to Texas, and that reports of fraud can be substantiated.
“Alliance Defending Freedom has known this for years as we have vigorously and separately pursued Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast for what we assert are other schemes of fraud against the Texas Women’s Health Program,” stated ADF senior counsel Michael Norton. “These programs are designed to help the poor, but Planned Parenthood instead uses taxpayer dollars to pad its bottom line with little regard for the health of women.”
“As Alliance Defending Freedom has reported in its annual report to Congress–and has learned in additional lawsuits in Iowa and Washington–Planned Parenthood has been improperly reimbursed by millions of taxpayer dollars over the years,” he added. “This is merely the tip of the iceberg.”
As previously reported, following the signing of new abortion regulations by Texas Governor Rick Perry, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast recently announced that it would be closing three of its facilities in the state. President Melaney Linton explained that the Planned Parenthood offices in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin would close its doors by the end of next month.
The six-story Planned Parenthood location in Houston is said to be the largest abortion facility in the nation, but will not be affected by the closings.