By Karla Dial
A federal judge today unsealed a lawsuit a former Planned Parenthood employee filed nearly three years ago. The suit claims that the abortion seller engages in a pernicious and persistent pattern of Medicaid fraud.
Abby Johnson, the former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Bryan/College Station area, states in the lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) that Planned Parenthood knowingly sought improper reimbursements from the Texas Women’s Health Program from 2007 to 2009.
According to court documents, Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas filed at least 87,075 fraudulent claims. As a result, according to Johnson, Planned Parenthood allegedly received more than $5.7 million from Medicaid for services the program doesn’t cover or which were never performed in the first place.
According to a federal law, suits based on inside information about government contractors must be sealed as long as the state or federal government is considering joining the case. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott decided not to do so, allowing the records to become public. The state recently cut Planned Parenthood — and all other organizations that provide elective abortions — out of state funding.
“We all need to be holding Planned Parenthood accountable since they are receiving almost half a billion dollars in (federal) taxpayer money,” Johnson said.
ADF Senior Counsel Michael Norton agreed.
“No matter where a person stands on abortion, everyone should agree that Planned Parenthood has to play by the same rules as everyone else,” he said. “It certainly isn’t entitled to a penny of public funds, especially if it is committing Medicaid fraud.”
On Feb. 7, ADF, along with the Susan B. Anthony List, publicly released a report it had made to Congress showing that Planned Parenthood’s southeast Texas affiliate didn’t act alone. According to the report, 10 state audits of Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide showed a pattern of improper billing practices resulting in nearly $8 million of overpayments from Medicaid.
Moreover, it found 38 federal audits of state family planning programs showed between $88 million and $99 million in overbilling, the lion’s share of which went to Planned Parenthood.
“They’ve portrayed this image of being this wonderful organization that provides health care and birth control to low-income women, and that image is just being shattered,” said former Colorado Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, currently vice president of government affairs at the Susan B. Anthony List. “Under some administrations, there were audits, and under others, there weren’t any.
“People have never really known what goes on inside, but now we’re finding out. There’s nothing like a former employee — a clinic director, no less — speaking out. That is powerful.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION Read the lawsuit, Johnson v. Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas.
Read the Alliance Defense Fund’s Feb. 7 report to Congress.
Read the individual state audits of Planned Parenthood affiliates.