Politics & Policy

We Paid for Those Abortions

Planned Parenthood rally in Austin, Texas, on March 7, 2013.
Across several states, Planned Parenthood overbills and charges Medicaid for abortions.

The federal government is preparing to destroy SAC Capital, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund based in Stamford, Conn., a project of the reclusive billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen. Two of Mr. Cohen’s employees are accused of violating insider-trading rules, and prosecutors have indicted SAC Capital corporately for having failed to supervise them. For a hedge fund, a federal indictment is practically as bad as a conviction — investors will pull their money, and, short of a miracle, the enterprise will die. Perhaps SAC Capital has it coming — it is always difficult to say in cases such as this. SAC already has paid more than $600 million to settle a related civil case, though it has admitted to no wrongdoing.

There is a piece of not entirely dissimilar news out of Texas. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which operates a chain of abortion mills, announced that it was closing several of its abattoirs — and paying $1.4 million to the state of Texas to settle claims that it fraudulently billed the state under Medicaid for procedures that the attorney general says were not covered, or were entirely fictitious. Like SAC Capital, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has admitted no wrongdoing. In fact, its executives were defiant: “The allegations in this complaint are baseless,” spokesman Rochelle Tafolla said, calling the settlement a “practical matter” to head off expensive future litigation.

#ad#The Texas attorney general’s office, under the leadership of newly announced gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, sees things differently, saying that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast intentionally falsified medical records in order to bilk the state out of Medicaid payments: “The State’s investigation revealed that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast improperly billed the Texas Medicaid program for products and services that were never actually rendered, not medically necessary, and were not covered by the Medicaid program — and were therefore not eligible for reimbursement. For example, state investigators determined that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast falsified material information in patients’ medical records in order to support fraudulent reimbursement claims to the Medicaid program.”

Planned Parenthood affiliates have faced similar accusations in the past. In 2012 the Alliance Defense Fund compiled state and federal audits of Planned Parenthood affiliates, concluding that “38 federal audits of state family-planning programs by HHS-OIG found between $88 million and $99 million in overbilling. The federal audits detailed ‘unbundling’ billing schemes related to pre-abortion examinations, counseling visits, and other services performed in conjunction with an abortion, and improper billing for abortions themselves. In New York alone during one four-year audit period, it appears that hundreds of thousands of abortion-related claims were billed illegally to Medicaid.” The Health and Human Services report, available here, found New York abortion clinics illegally billing Medicaid for abortions — a single clinic billed taxpayers for nearly 4,000 abortions during the audit period.

New York, it is worth noting, is not an especially conservative state. Neither is California, but a 2004 state audit there similarly revealed millions of dollars in overbilling. A Washington State audit revealed overbillings, drugs being given out without prescriptions, billings for what appear to be fictitious doctor visits, etc. New Jersey had to repay millions of dollars to the federal government for Medicaid overpayments related to Planned Parenthood affiliates.

If two traders at a Wall Street firm profiting from insider knowledge constitute a case for charging the enterprise as a whole with a crime, what are we to make of a consistent pattern of overbilling and fraud across several states, involving millions upon millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money? Given the impenitent attitude of the Texas affiliates and the Planned Parenthood central command, perhaps it is time to inform Cecile Richards & Co. that orange is the new black.

Kevin D. Williamson is a roving correspondent for National Review and author of the newly published The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome.


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