Planned Parenthood Faces More Fraud Charges From Ex-Employees

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 20, 2012   |   11:39AM   |   Washington, DC

More former employees of the Planned Parenthood are coming forward alleging the abortion business has engaged in fraud when it comes to how it manages taxpayer funds or bills the federal or state governments.

Last week, former Planned Parenthood abortion facility director Abby Johnson talked more about the whistleblower lawsuit against the abortion business she filed 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 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.

Now, pro-life blogger Jill Stanek says more former Planned Parenthood staff are coming forward with their own charges about fraud.

Since Johnson’s story broke last week, five former Planned Parenthood employees have contacted her to say they realized after reading details of her lawsuit that they, too, may have unknowingly been involved in defrauding the government.

These were lower level staffers who merely followed instructions when completing paperwork. One worked at a PP in California, and the other four worked in new states other than California or Texas.

When we spoke by phone yesterday, Johnson told me she put the former employees in touch with ADF for follow-up.

The growing body of evidence should help fuel the ongoing congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood as well as aid officials in various states in knowing what to look for when reevaluating past years’ Planned Parenthood invoices. While PP affiliates allegedly involved in fraud my stop, they cannot retract paperwork already submitted for which they have been paid and for which they are liable.

Along with the affiliate and parent organization, PP employees involved in committing fraud may also be personally liable, depending on the level of fraud committed and how much requisite knowledge they had.

I spoke with ADF attorney Mike Norton today about personal liability.

“Current or former employees who have information about potential fraud should speak with an attorney for guidance,” said Norton. “I would be happy to talk to anyone who thinks they have knowledge about fraud committed by Planned Parenthood. I want to make sure they are protected as whistleblowers and help reveal the crime rather than become a bullseye of the investigation.”

The Johnson lawsuit comes on the heels of two others — including one from former California Planed Parenthood financial official P. Victor Gonzalez.

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In 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated the lawsuit filed by a former vice president of a Planned Parenthood abortion business affiliate in California. The case details allegations of massive fraud where the abortion giant overbilled state officials.

Gonzalez says the abortion business fired him because he raised concerns about illegal practices of overcharging the state hundreds of millions of dollars on birth control. The former Planned Parenthood official filed a lawsuit in March 2008 but, in January 2009, a federal district court judge dismissed the case and Gonzalez filed an appeal. Represented by the American Center for Law and Justice, Gonzalez is now considered a federal whistleblower and

Gonzalez says his own internal audit estimates that Planned Parenthood overcharged California taxpayers for purchasing birth control by at least $180 million. He was the vice president of finance and administration for Planned Parenthood of Los Angles and, according to a Los Angeles Times report, the overbilling began in the late 1990s.

Karen Reynolds, a former Health Center Assistant at the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC), in Lufkin, Texas, also filed a whistleblower case. Jay Sekulow talked about the complaint previously:

According to our complaint, during her decade-long employment at this clinic, Reynolds learned that PPGC knowingly engaged in continued violations of both federal and state law by adopting and implementing company-wide billing policies intended to maximize revenue received from government health care programs (such as Medicaid and Title XX) by expressly requiring PPGC’s clinics in Texas and Louisiana to bill the federal and state governments for reimbursement for (i) medical services that were never actually rendered; (ii) medical services that, although rendered, were known by Defendant to be medically unnecessary; and (iii) abortion-related services that PPGC knew were not properly reimbursable through these government programs.

Our legal action further alleges that Planned Parenthood’s company-wide policies required employees to create false information in medical records, usually days after the patient had already come and gone from the clinic, to make it appear that services were rendered when they were not. This information in patient records would have been necessary for PPGC to support its claims for reimbursement for those services and to pass government quality assurance audits, a prerequisite for continued participation in government programs such as Medicaid and Title XX.

I have assembled a legal team that is working on this case. We anticipate that Planned Parenthood will file a motion to dismiss this complaint. We’re already working on our response to that likely filing and are moving forward with discovery in this critical case.

In her lawsuit, Abby 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.