Iowa Planned Parenthood fraud case heads to 8th Circuit
Attorney sound bite: Michael Norton
DES MOINES — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a former Planned Parenthood facility director in Iowa filed notice in district court Wednesday that they are appealing her fraud case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. A district court judge dismissed her lawsuit in December of last year.
The lawsuit claims that Planned Parenthood’s Iowa affiliate submitted “repeated false, fraudulent, and/or ineligible claims for reimbursements” to Medicaid and failed to meet acceptable standards of medical practice.
“Americans deserve to know if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it. That is why we are appealing this case,” said Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton, a former United States Attorney. “No matter what views people have about abortion, everyone can agree that Planned Parenthood should play by the same rules as everyone else.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed suit in March 2011 on behalf of Sue Thayer under a federal law that allows “whistleblowers” with inside information to expose fraudulent billing by government contractors. Alliance Defending Freedom has also filed a similar lawsuit against a Texas Planned Parenthood affiliate.
Thayer, former manager of Planned Parenthood’s Storm Lake and LeMars clinics, 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.
The lawsuit alleges that Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, an affiliate now known as Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, filed nearly one-half million false claims with Medicaid from which Planned Parenthood received and retained nearly $28 million.
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 that, Planned Parenthood mailed thousands of unrequested birth control pills to those clients.
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 pills to Planned Parenthood. Instead of crediting Medicaid or destroying the returned pills, Planned Parenthood resold the same 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.
Des Moines attorney J. Russell Hixson, one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, is assisting with the case, Thayer v. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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