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The Obama administration has gone to the defense of Planned Parenthood with its decision to cut funding for a Texas health program for low-income women, a decision which comes as the nation’s largest abortion provider faces mounting allegations of widespread fraud.
In June 2011 the Texas legislature passed a law barring Planned Parenthood clinics and other “affiliates of abortion providers” from participating in Texas’s Women’s Health Program (WHP), a state program that provides women’s health services to approximately 130,000 low-income women
However, since its passage in 2011, the Obama administration has steadfastly maintained that the Texas law violates federal Medicaid regulations requiring that women have a choice in medical care.
The state of Texas has strenuously argued that under federal law, states administer Medicaid and have the right to set the criteria for providers in the program. As a spokeswoman for Texas Health and Human Services said, “That is what Texas is doing.”
In fact, Texas is just one of 11 states to have eliminated or decreased funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates in 2011.
For example, New Jersey has cut $7.5 million of Title X funding from Planned Parenthood and redirected it to health centers that do not provide abortions; New Hampshire has declined to renew a $1.8 million contract with Planned Parenthood; and Indiana has voted to prohibit state funding of Planned Parenthood and other entities that provide elective abortions.
These and other efforts have served to cost Planned Parenthood — which receives 46 percent ($487 million) of its $1 billion annual budget from government grants and Medicaid — about $80 million at the state level.
Not surprisingly then, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which funds 90 percent of WHP’s $40 million budget, has been threatening to discontinue funding WHP unless Texas fully funds Planned Parenthood as a provider for the program.
Those threats have now become a reality as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced that the Obama administration will not extend WHP’s Medicaid funding when the program’s renewal expires on March 31.
For his part Texas Governor Rick Perry has pledged to find state money to keep WHP afloat — despite the state running a $15 billion deficit — but was quick to decry the “clear demonstration of the political motivation behind this decision.”
That motivation may be directly traced to the fact that despite Planned Parenthood accounting for only two percent of WHP’s 2,500 Medicaid providers, the organization stands to lose $17 million if it is excluded from the Texas program.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) CEO, Cecile Richards, laid the blame of the Obama administration’s decision squarely at the feet of the Texas state government, saying that it was now “throwing hundreds of thousands of folks off of basic preventive care.”
It should be noted that Planned Parenthood claims that 90 percent of the “basic preventative care” provided by its clinics centers on contraceptive counseling, birth control, screenings for breast and cervical cancer, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
Of course, many believe that performing abortions remains the fundamental service provided by Planned Parenthood, a belief buttressed by a 2007 report on the organization that found that one out of three clients who walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic go on to have abortions.
As such, proponents of the Texas law argue that WHP funds should be going to healthcare agencies that — unlike Planned Parenthood clinics — provide comprehensive primary and preventative care, including prenatal care, breast cancer treatment, and mammograms.
For Planned Parenthood, the Texas decision is just the latest in a series of setbacks for the nation’s largest provider of abortions, one that performs over 300,000 such procedures a year.
That menu of troubles includes Planned Parenthood affiliates coming under criminal investigation by prosecutors and regulatory agencies in Arizona, Indiana, Alabama, and Kansas for allegations of fraud and misuse of health-care and family-planning funds.
These allegations include overbilling for prescription drugs; improperly claiming services as family planning-related; billing for medically unnecessary services; billing for multiple initial prenatal care visits; and incorrectly billing initial, follow-up, and postpartum services.
In California and Texas, two federal “whistleblower” lawsuits have been filed by two former Planned Parenthood employees alleging massive Medicaid fraud.
In the Texas lawsuit, the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) is alleged to have engaged in a fraudulent $6 million billing scheme that charged 87,000 reimbursement claims to Medicaid for services patients did not receive and which were not covered by Medicaid.
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