A Planned Parenthood affiliate in Iowa has allegedly filed nearly one-half million false claims with Medicaid from which the pro-abortion organization received and retained nearly $28 million, say lawyers for a faith-based legal ministry.
Planned Parenthood submitted "repeated false, fraudulent, and/or ineligible claims for reimbursements" to Medicaid and failed to meet acceptable standards of medical practice, according to a lawsuit made public Monday. The organization could be ordered to pay the United States and Iowa as much as $5.5 billion in False Claims Act damages and penalties, according to Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund).
ADF is representing former Planned Parenthood clinic director Sue Thayer in her lawsuit against the abortion giant's Iowa affiliate filed March 2011.
"We think it's a very viable complaint that demonstrates Medicaid fraud by Planned Parenthood that we have observed in our research on not only this affiliate, but other affiliates around the country and is primarily motivated by the bottom line desire for money, not for care for women's health," ADF Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton told The Christian Post on Tuesday.
"Americans deserve to know if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it," said Norton, a former U.S. attorney. "People may hold different views about abortion, but everyone can agree that Planned Parenthood should play by the same rules as everyone else. It certainly isn't entitled to any public funds, especially if it is defrauding Medicaid and the American taxpayer."
The lawsuit explains that, to enhance revenues, Planned Parenthood implemented a "C-Mail" program that automatically mailed a year's supply of birth control pills to women who had only been seen once at a Planned Parenthood clinic and usually by personnel who were not qualified health care professionals.
After the one-time visits, Planned Parenthood mailed thousands of unrequested birth control pills to those clients, says ADF. Planned Parenthood's cost for a 28-day supply of birth control pills mailed to clients was $2.98, but the Medicaid reimbursement Planned Parenthood received for the pills was $26.32. In some cases, the Postal Service returned the birth control pills to Planned Parenthood. Instead of crediting Medicaid or destroying the returned pills, Planned Parenthood resold the same birth control pills and billed Medicaid twice for the same pills.
The suit also claims that Planned Parenthood coerced "voluntary donations" for services and then billed Medicaid for them. In effect, Planned Parenthood both falsely billed Medicaid and took money from low-income women by getting them to pay for services Medicaid was intended to cover in full, the ADF lawsuit states.
Thayer, who is a former manager of Planned Parenthood's Storm Lake and LeMars clinics, has sued under both the federal and Iowa False Claims acts. The suit alleges that Planned Parenthood knowingly committed Medicaid fraud from 2002 to 2009 by improperly seeking reimbursements from Iowa Medicaid Enterprise and the Iowa Family Planning Network for products and services not legally reimbursable by those programs.
ADF attorneys filed the suit under a federal law that allows "whistleblowers" with inside information to expose fraudulent billing by government contractors. By law, such cases may not be made public until a court unseals them. In March, a federal court unsealed a similar Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit against a Texas Planned Parenthood affiliate.
"It honestly really doesn't matter whether you are for or against abortion when you look at things like this. It's whether or not you are against health care fraud," Norton told CP. "I think Americans deserve to be assured that everyone is playing by the rules and that organizations like Planned Parenthood are not above the law."
Norton also said ADF is an advocate for life and supports the idea that life begins at conception. The alliance is opposed to abortion and abortion providers.
"We want to expose Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers for who they are and what they are, and that is an organization that is primarily ripping off tax payers' dollars without any accountability," he said.
The lawsuit Thayer v. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. Des Moines attorney J. Russell Hixson, one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, is assisting with the case.
Planned Parenthood did not return a phone call from CP by press time.