Newsbreak

Texas AG sues Planned Parenthood to recoup $10M in Medicaid reimbursements

Texas, el paso

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wants to recoup $10 million from abortion giant Planned Parenthood, and has filed a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood Federation of America along with a number of Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas, spanning most of the state’s Planned Parenthood providers. The suit seeks the recovery of $10 million in payments made by the Texas Medicaid program. The Texas Tribune reports:

In 2016, Texas officially filed to remove Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider, setting off a lengthy legal battle. Planned Parenthood immediately asked the courts to intervene, and a federal district court blocked the state’s notice of termination in 2017, allowing Planned Parenthood to continue to seek reimbursement through Medicaid.

But in November 2020, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, allowing Texas to proceed with removing Planned Parenthood as a provider. Planned Parenthood then filed an emergency lawsuit saying the state had not followed proper procedures, and a state judge issued a temporary restraining order.

Ultimately, in February 2021, the state prevailed, bringing to an end Planned Parenthood’s attempts to remain on the Medicaid rolls.

However, Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood were still made during the three years of “legal and administrative proceedings.” It is these payments that the AG is seeking to recover.

The lawsuit bases its allegations on the Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act (TMFPA), saying Planned Parenthood knew it was not eligible to recover the reimbursements, and “Planned Parenthood knowingly and improperly avoided its obligation to repay money owed to the Texas Medicaid program.”

READ: Planned Parenthood gives up lawsuit against Texas for Medicaid funding

The suit cites TMFPA in Section 35, saying that if someone “knowingly makes, uses, or causes the making or use of a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to this state under the Medicaid program, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to this state under the Medicaid program,” then it is considered fraud.

Because Planned Parenthood did not appeal the last decision in district court, the suit alleges that the organization was no longer entitled to any reimbursements on or after February 1, 2017.

According to KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, Paxton said, “It is unthinkable that Planned Parenthood would continue to take advantage of funding knowing they were not entitled to keep it. I will not allow them to benefit from this abhorrent conduct after they were caught violating medical standards and lying to law enforcement.”

While technically federal monies cannot be used for abortion, as Right to Life notes, abortion providers dance a fine line combining state and federal money, reminding us that money is fungible: 

There is zero meaningful separation of staff, facilities, and operational costs at Planned Parenthood clinics between government-funded services and abortions. Federal contract rules allow taxpayer funds to pay staff salaries, supplies, and facility costs on a ‘pro-rated’ basis. It is merely an accounting gimmick; tax dollars literally pay the rent and energy costs to keep abortion clinics running and funds staff that help perform abortions.

But the Texas Tribune disputes this, claiming that the “$3.1 million from Medicaid to provide family planning and women’s health services to low-income Texans… were separate from the group’s abortion services, which receive no public funding.” 

Planned Parenthood Federation of America general counsel Kumiki Gibson called the suit a “meritless” political attack by anti-abortion politicians. “Planned Parenthood will continue to fight back against all of these false accusations and political attacks and will continue serving patients in Texas – no matter what,” Gibson said.

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