Agents from the Texas Office of the Inspector General arrived Thursday morning unannounced at Planned Parenthood clinics in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, seeking documents related to allegations of Medicaid fraud.
The officials, according to a Reuters report, remained for several hours in some cases at the clinics, giving administrators 24 hours to deliver documents to them.
Planned Parenthood said the raid was “politically motivated,” says the report, and that the Texas agents demanded that thousands of pages of documents stored in their clinics throughout the state be delivered within 24 hours.
“We believe this is a fishing expedition,” Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region Chief Executive Officer Ken Lambrecht said at an Austin news conference. He added that Texas was requesting information Planned Parenthood thinks is unnecessary, such as employees’ home addresses, salaries, and bonuses.
“We have begun terminating your enrollment because, based on the evidence outlined below, you are liable, directly or by affiliation, for a series of serious Medicaid program violations,” Stuart W. Bowen Jr., Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s inspector general, said in a letter to the CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) Melaney Linton, reports Amarillo.com.
“The State has determined that you and your Planned Parenthood affiliates are no longer capable of performing medical services in a professionally competent, safe, legal, and ethical manner,” Bowen continued. “You may request an Informal Resolution Meeting (IRM) with my legal staff to discuss the findings in this Notice of Termination.”
“Planned Parenthood has 30 days to respond, according to Bowen.” If they fail to do so, they will be automatically terminated from Medicaid funding. Planned Parenthood calls it a “malicious, political attack.”
“It is completely outrageous that Texas officials are using these thoroughly discredited, fraudulent videos to cut women off from preventive health care, including cancer screenings, HIV testing, and birth control,” said executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Dawn Laguens, according to Amarillo.
The raid comes several days after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that Texas would be ending Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates in his state following the release of a series of videos exposing the abortion business’s apparent practice of selling the body parts of aborted babies. The group is under investigation by several congressional committees for possibly criminal activities.
Prior Planned Parenthood scandals involving allegations of Medicaid fraud have occurred over the past several years.
In 2013, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced a settlement—a total of $4.3 million—with PPGC, which covers Texas and Louisiana, to resolve allegations of Medicaid fraud.
As SETexasRecord reported, following a whistleblower’s lawsuit against PPGC and Abbott’s follow-up inquiry into the matter, PPGC was found to have “allegedly improperly billed the Texas Medicaid program for services and products that were not rendered, not medically necessary and were not covered by the Medicaid program.”
“The alleged improper billing practices were not eligible for Medicaid reimbursement,” the Record continued. “Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast allegedly falsified material information in the medical records of patients to support fraudulent Medicaid reimbursement claims.”
Then, last year, a federal judge in Houston ruled that PPGC must face Medicaid fraud claims regarding STD and HIV blood tests performed. The lawsuit was brought by a former accounts manager for PPGC who alleged that the company saw a 300 percent increase in revenues by falsely claiming the tests were performed by a doctor when they were performed by another non-physician employee.
A statement released by Abbott this week notes the letter issued by Bowen’s office.
“Texas has stepped forward and shown its unyielding commitment to both protecting life and providing women’s health services,” Abbott said. “The gruesome harvesting of baby body parts by Planned Parenthood will not be allowed in Texas and the barbaric practice must be brought to an end.”
“As such, ending the Medicaid participation of Planned Parenthood affiliates in the State of Texas is another step in providing greater access to safe healthcare for women while protecting our most vulnerable – the unborn,” the governor added.
Earlier this month when Governor Abbott stopped the state Medicaid funding of these clinics, that was seen as a good start to shutting down Planned Parenthood, but these IG visits could be taking it too far.
Like most conservatives, I want to see PP shut down too, but there is no mention of a warrant or of having any evidence of fraud other than PP’s history. Unless there is suspicion of fraud occurring currently, these actions might not hold up in court.
The employees working at these locations would have some expectation of privacy when it comes to IG’s demands for their addresses and payroll information. Granted, this isn’t the equivalent of the privacy expectations one would have in their home, but even at work a person expects some degree of privacy.
It gets us nowhere, in fact it would be a step backward if PP’s attorneys can use these actions as grounds for a lawsuit because Abbott got overly zealous in his attempts to shut them down and violated their fourth amendment rights. I hope our governor knows what he’s doing.