WASHINGTON — Members of Congress announced on Monday that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to investigate the abortion provider Planned Parenthood and other organizations of a similar nature to analyze their use of taxpayer funds as allocated by the federal government.
Representatives Pete Olson of Texas, Diane Black of Tennessee, Chris Smith of New Jersey and over 60 other members of Congress had requested in February that the watchdog agency investigate the organization to find out how the funds of the American people are being spent. This week, Congress announced that the investigation will indeed go forward.
“The federal government providing funding to abortion providers is a serious problem in our nation,” Black asserted in a statement. “I am pleased with the decision from GAO to investigate the use of taxpayer money designated to any abortion provider, particularly Planned Parenthood. This independent study of how much and for what purpose these dollars are allocated to all abortion providers is necessary for Congress to ensure accountability and oversight.”
“Despite the best and slickest market branding money can buy, the stubborn fact remains that Planned Parenthood clinics are among the most dangerous places on earth for a child,” remarked Smith.
“It is deeply troubling that despite the fact that Planned Parenthood claims direct responsibility for killing over 6 million unborn babies–including a record 333,964 abortions in 2011 alone, they still receive taxpayer money–since Obama’s election and U.S. subsidies to the abortion industry at home and abroad, have significantly increased,” he added.
According to reports, the GAO investigated Planned Parenthood and others as recent as 2010. However, new developments have raised concern, and Congress believes that the public is entitled to updated information. As previously reported, the Texas/Louisiana branch of Planned Parenthood was forced last month to repay $3.4 million in Medicaid funds after it had been sued by a former employee who alleged that the organization was cheating the system.
“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,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote in a statement announcing the settlement. “[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.”
But the organization denied any wrongdoing. It claimed that it agreed to the settlement so as to keep legal costs low and focus on women’s health issues.
“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.”
In addition to the investigation, Representative Black and Senator David Vitter of Louisiana have introduced the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act into Congress in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood completely. While Vitter’s bill has struggled to obtain adequate support in the Senate, Black’s House proposal has received greater backing.
Other organizations that will be scrutinized by the GAO include the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Population Council, The Guttmacher Institute, Advocates for Youth, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.