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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Texas Sues to Recoup Millions in Fraudulent Medicaid Funds from Planned Parenthood

It is 'unthinkable that Planned Parenthood would continue to take advantage of funding knowing they were not entitled to keep it...'

(Headline USA) Texas wants Planned Parenthood to give back millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements—and pay far more in fines on top of that—in a lawsuit that appears to be the first of its kind brought by a state against the largest abortion provider in the U.S.

But Planned Parenthood claims the attempt to recoup at least $17 million in Medicaid payments for health services, including cancer screenings, is a new effort to weaken the organization after years of Republican-led laws that stripped funding and imposed restrictions on how its clinics operate.

A hearing was set for Tuesday in front of U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who earlier this year issued a ruling that invalidated approval of the abortion pill mifepristone.

At issue is money Planned Parenthood received for so-called health services before Texas removed the organization from the state’s Medicaid program in 2021. Texas had begun trying to oust Planned Parenthood four years earlier and is seeking repayment for services billed during that time.

“This baseless case is an active effort to shut down Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Texas brought the lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act, which allows fines for every alleged improper payment. Planned Parenthood says that could result in a judgement in excess of $1 billion.

It is not clear when Kacsmaryk will rule.

The lawsuit was announced last year by Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said it was “unthinkable that Planned Parenthood would continue to take advantage of funding knowing they were not entitled to keep it.”

Jacob Elberg, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in health care fraud, called the False Claims Act the government’s most powerful tool against health fraud. Cases involving the law in recent years have included a health records company in Florida and a Montana health clinic that submitted false asbestos claims.

Planned Parenthood has roughly three dozen health clinics in Texas. One has closed since the Supreme Court’s landmark Dobbs ruling last year, which allowed Texas to ban abortion.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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