Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Inc. is under investigation for charges of illegally billing Medicaid nearly $28 million in fraudulent claims, among other charges. If found guilty, Planned Parenthood could face up to $5.5 billion in fines to the State of Iowa and the United States for illegal activities in its Iowa clinics.
Charges filed include forcing patients to receive “C-mail” (birth control by mail at their homes and dormitories), prescribing drugs without physician involvement, failure to provide follow-up exams after a patient had been on birth control for at least a year, and falsifying documents in order to get taxpayer monies through various state and federal agencies.
In this four-part series of articles, the lawsuit will be discussed in detail, with each article focusing on a specific set of charges. This article serves as a summary and provides background information essential to understanding the case fully.
The lawsuit, brought by former clinic director Susan Thayor (sole plaintiff/relator), was signed and dated March 11, 2011 and has recently come to light through reports by The Des Moines Register, Lincoln’s 10/11 News (KOLN/KGIN), and other news sources after the documents were unsealed earlier this month.
Such suits are allowed by law to be filed on behalf of those with information regarding illegal activity without risk of penalty under state and federal “whistle-blower” laws. In this case, the federal False Claims Act was invoked. The government and other parties had two months to look into the case prior to Planned Parenthood’s knowledge. According to the suit, which I’ve obtained and read in full, “[t]he complaint is filed under seal for sixty days (without service on the defendant during that period) in order to enable the government to conduct its own investigation without the defendant’s knowledge and to determine whether to join the action.”
After that time, the U.S. attorney general and Iowa attorney general decided to let the case proceed without direct involvement as litigants. According to a quote in the Des Moines Register, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller stated, “Our decision to decline intervention at this time follows an extensive review of the case with federal and state investigators, and an extensive review of a large volume of evidence. We reserve the right to intervene at a later date upon the showing of good cause. Though the state is not currently a litigant, it remains the real party in interest, and is entitled to the majority of damages and penalties recovered on its behalf, should that occur.”
According to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland President Jill June, this suit is just “a pattern of harassment against women’s health care and Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country[,]” and the state and federal governments’ lack of direct involvement confirms that Thayer has no case. June continues to discredit the case, adding that representation by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is pro-life and, among other things, in opposition to same-sex marriage, invalidates Thayer’s complaints due to bias. “The extreme organization that former employee Sue Thayer has partnered with has a mission to take down Planned Parenthood,” June said in a news release. ADF “uses politics as a form of destruction, targeting Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country with false claims and misinformation.”
When Thayer started at Planned Parenthood in Iowa, it was under Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa. The Iowa clinics were consolidated and merged with Nebraska’s clinics in 2009, forming Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH). Recent reports on TV, online, and in print have stated that PPH operates education and resource centers in Des Moines, Lincoln, and Omaha, making it sound like Thayer’s suing three minor, innocuous centers that provide public education and awareness. But PPH is much larger than implied and operates abortion clinics and “Telemed” abortions the reports fail to mention. In Iowa alone, PPH has (or has had) clinics and surgical centers in Ames, Ankeny, Bettendorf, Burlington, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Creston, Des Moines, Dubuque, Ft. Dodge, Ft. Madison, Iowa City, Knoxville, Keokuk, LeMars, Mt. Pleasant, Newton, Red Oak, Sioux City, Spencer, Storm Lake, and Urbandale. Last summer, PPH further consolidated and (according to their website) now includes 31 affiliates in Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and three counties in Illinois, in addition to the Des Moines, Lincoln, and Omaha “Education and Resource Centers” mentioned in the news. A brief search of their website will also show you that in reality, those three centers also perform abortions, despite the P.C. classification.
Thayer worked for Planned Parenthood for nearly 17 years as clinic director of the Storm Lake, Iowa affiliate from 1991-December 2008 as well as managing the LeMars center from 1993-1997. Her employment at the clinic was terminated due to what she was told were budget cuts, but Thayer believes that it was her open opposition to Telemed abortions (abortion pills administered by a doctor via webcam) and voicing concerns regarding other practices at the clinics that resulted in her firing. She has since become a pro-life advocate and member of 40 Days for Life, which held vigil outside her former clinic in Storm Lake, which subsequently went out of business, as did the Knoxville clinic simultaneously. You can check out that footage here.
Keep an eye out for my next three articles, exclusively for Live Action, which will respectively cover the three major claims against PPH within the suit.