|Kathleen Gilbert||Sat Mar 10 07:46 EST||Abortion|
Co-authored with John Jalsevac
WASHINGTON, March 9, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Abby Johnson, a former manager at a Texas Planned Parenthood, has filed a federal “whistleblower” lawsuit alleging that the local affiliate she once worked for defrauded federal taxpayers of millions of dollars in a long-running scheme using Medicaid claims. The lawsuit is the third complaint from a former Planned Parenthood employee alleging widespread and systematic fraud at the abortion giant.
Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, now known as Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, submitted “repeated false, fraudulent, and ineligible claims for Medicaid reimbursements” through the Texas Women’s Health Program, according to Johnson’s federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in 2009, but only made public for the first time Friday, alleges that the affiliate filed at least 87,075 false, fraudulent, or ineligible claims with the Texas Women’s Health Program, raking in reimbursements totaling more than $5.7 million.
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Johnson told LifeSiteNews that she filed the lawsuit to “expose the corruption” at Planned Parenthood and “to show the taxpayer how their money is being spent at Planned Parenthood.”
“The ultimate goal,” she said, “would be to shut down this affiliate, which is responsible for running the largest abortion clinic in the Western hemisphere. And hopefully that would prompt additional investigations into other Planned Parenthood-equipped affiliates.”
The lawsuit claims that Planned Parenthood held a meeting in late 2008 or early 2009 to inform its clinic directors that it had been falsely billing the Texas WHP program since January 1, 2007. Johnson says that when she asked “What are we going to do about” the money that Planned Parenthood had improperly received, her supervisor answered, “Well, we are going to hope we don’t get caught.”
The suit claims clinic managers were told to continue to bill for ineligible products and services, and that they continued to pre-select, purge, and falsify patient charts, changing them after the fact to make them appear legitimate.
“Americans deserve to know if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it,” said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton, whose firm is representing Johnson in the case. “No matter where a person stands on abortion, everyone should agree that Planned Parenthood has to play by the same rules as everyone else. It certainly isn’t entitled to a penny of public funds, especially if it is committing Medicaid fraud.”
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 must initially be filed under seal and may not be made public while federal and state governments decide whether to join the case.
Johnson, former director of Planned Parenthood’s Bryan/College Station clinic, is suing under the Federal False Claims Act and Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act.
Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest called the lawsuit “even more evidence that the American taxpayer is being defrauded by Planned Parenthood.”
“This case bravely brought by AUL’s Senior Advisor Abby Johnson is more evidence of Planned Parenthood’s harmful and dishonest practices and cannot be ignored,” said Yoest. “With such evidence consistently building, the American public deserves answers.”
AUL was behind a comprehensive report showing evidence of nearly $100 million in fraud by Planned Parenthood that sparked a Congressional investigation.
Two federal whistleblower lawsuits in California and Texas charge even more affiliates with Medicaid fraud in the tens of millions of dollars.
Karen Reynolds of Lufkin, Texas, worked more than 10 years at Planned Parenthood. In her court complaint, she charges PPGC with “billing for medical services not rendered, billing for unwarranted medical services, billing for services not covered by Medicaid, and creating false information in medical records which was material to billing for medical services.”
Another former Planned Parenthood employee, P. Victor Gonzalez, who was chief financial officer for Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, claimed in a 2010 lawsuit that PPLA paid “$225,695.65 for Ortho Tri-Cyclen birth control pills, yet billed the government $918,084 – for a profit of $692,388.35.” These and other actions, which he said deliberately violated the False Claims Act (FCA), amounted to $100 million in financial impropriety.
“We are very confident that there will be more cases that will come to light after people read the complaint from these three cases,” Johnson said, “and hopefully they will be able to bring forward additional information.”