Abby Johnson Sues Planned Parenthood, Claims $6M in Fraud
by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 3/12/12 10:51 AM
Former Planned Parenthood abortion facility director Abby Johnson has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the abortion business claiming its Texas affiliate knowingly sent in about $6 million in false claims to Medicaid and covered up its actions.
The federal whistleblower lawsuit was unsealed on Friday and alleges that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast submitted more than 87,000 reimbursement claims for services that were “false, fraudulent, and/or ineligible.” The Alliance Defense Fund filed the lawsuit for Johnson, also a LifeNews blogger, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston.
The formerly sealed federal “whistleblower” suit against Planned Parenthood was made public Friday and was filed in 2009 by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Johnson.
Johnson had “system-wide” access to Planned Parenthood files, billing records and information for two years and said she filed the lawsuit “to simply expose Planned Parenthood and expose their corruption, and expose what they are doing with American tax dollars.”
“Everyone, no matter what you think about abortion, should be interested in where our money is going and how it is being spent,” Ms. Johnson said. “As someone who saw the inside of this and saw the fraudulent billing and the fraudulent claims, I felt like I had a duty, and it was necessary for me to come forward with this information.”
The complaint states, “At a late 2008/early 2009 monthly management meeting, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, through Members of Planned Parenthood’s Key Management Team, openly acknowledged to Ms. Johnson and others attending this management meeting that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast had, in fact, been fraudulently billing the Texas WHP program for non-reimbursable products and services but would hope not to get caught and would hide these facts from the United States, the State of Texas, and/or their respective fiscal intermediaries and not provide any reimbursement of monies received…”
The lawsuit says Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, “filed at least 87,075 false, fraudulent, or ineligible claims with the Texas Women’s Health Program. As a result, Planned Parenthood wrongfully received and retained reimbursements totaling more than $5.7 million.”
The suit alleges that Planned Parenthood knowingly committed Medicaid fraud from 2007 to 2009 by improperly seeking reimbursements from the Texas Women’s Health Program for products and services not reimbursable by that program.
Texas effectively banned Planned Parenthood from participating in the Texas Women’s Health Program recently because state law says that the state’s Medicaid agency cannot contract with “affiliates of entities that perform or promote elective abortions.”
“Americans deserve to know if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it,” said ADF Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton. “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.”
Johnson, now Senior Policy Advisor at AUL, is suing under the Federal False Claims Act and Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act that allows “whistleblowers” with inside information to expose fraudulent billing. 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.
“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 Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life. “With such evidence consistently building, the American public deserves answers. Currently, taxpayers are forced to give over $1 million dollars a day in tax monies to this organization under investigation. AUL calls on Congress to continue its investigation of the nation’s largest abortion provider and to hold public hearings.”
Yoest said she is concerned about “troubling reports of financial improprieties, among other concerns. It is time for Planned Parenthood to open its books, be fully investigated and held accountable for its egregious misuse of American taxpayer dollars.”
On February 7, ADF publicly released its report to Congress in which ADF identified nearly $100 million in waste, abuse, and potential fraud committed by other Planned Parenthood affiliates and other service providers. Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida is currently leading a congressional investigation into the handling of federal funding by Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest purveyor of abortions.
The lawsuit Johnson v. Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Irving attorney Joshua Carden and Houston attorney Scot Dollinger, two of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance, are assisting with the case.