A recent article in The Washington Post revealed that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business, continues to still bring in a record number of taxpayer dollars despite President Donald Trump’s promises to defund the organization. That may be true, but that’s because over several decades Planned Parenthood has used Medicaid as an endless source of federal dollars through various schemes.
“There is one anti-abortion pledge President Trump hasn’t kept: his promise to defund Planned Parenthood. Instead, federal funds to the women’s health care and abortion provider grew during the first two and a half years of his administration.” (author’s emphasis) That’s how The Post writer Paige Winfield Cunningham begins her article.
She goes on to say that, “That reality has mostly flown under the radar, even as Trump has been praised by abortion rights opponents as being the friendliest president to their cause.” (author’s emphasis)
Actually, the pro-life community and those who watch Planned Parenthood closely are well aware of this, but there’s not a lot of that the president can do when it’s the bureaucracy of Medicaid that is allowing Planned Parenthood to thrive.
Many former Planned Parenthood employees have tried to blow the whistle, explaining how various affiliate clinics use the many loopholes in the Medicaid reimbursement policies to extract as much money as possible.
“We participated in Medicaid fraud in a bunch of different ways,” Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood employee from 2001-2009, told The Daily Citizen. “They’re pretty good at defrauding the government, and it’s not hard. They make it very, very easy.”
(In 2010, Johnson filed a lawsuit in the State of Texas regarding some of the questionable Medicaid activities that she observed, stating that 40% of the Medicaid claims were “false, fraudulent, and/or ineligible for reimbursement.” The case was thrown out as in 2013, Planned Parenthood settled for $1.3 million with a different whistleblower who had similar allegations.)
Johnson explained, “Medicaid will pay for anything. You bill it, they will pay for it. We’d have a woman come in for an abortion check-up, but if she got pills at her visit or some sort of birth control, we would actually bill that to the government. Technically anything abortion related should not be billed to the government. But we bill almost every abortion follow-up to the government, as long as we talked about contraception then we would consider it a family planning visit, not an abortion visit.”
Patients seeking emergency contraception, which is not always covered by Medicaid and wasn’t available over-the-counter until after 2013, were instead offered an intrauterine device (IUD), which is called by Planned Parenthood on its website as “the most effective emergency contraception there is” and “lower your chance of pregnancy by 99%.” Based on information available on Planned Parenthood’s website, women are not told that it could cause an abortion.
“Women would come in wanting emergency contraception, but Medicaid doesn’t pay for emergency contraception,” Johnson said. “We’d say, ‘You’re on Medicaid, well we can insert an IUD as emergency contraception.’ But in reality, an IUD would terminate a pregnancy if she is already pregnant. An IUD would terminate her pregnancy within the first 10 days post-conception, so that’s another way that the government is paying for potential abortions since we don’t know it’s an abortion because it’s too early to have a positive pregnancy test. And women aren’t told that.”
She also alleges that patients are encouraged to adjust their income to fit within Medicaid parameters, as there is no requirement that the Planned Parenthood clients demonstrate how they qualify for the program. If reimbursement didn’t come fast enough, Johnson and other Planned Parenthood clinics were directed to submit the claim to the “United States, the State of Texas, and/or their respective fiscal intermediaries.”
Johnson goes on to discuss how her Planned Parenthood clinic would acquire more money from birth control distribution. “We would give women a whole year (of birth control) at a time. The government will pay us $20.88 per pack of pills, at that time, and it cost us $2. It’s probably more now.
“But the reality is that most women, on average, will only take their pills about six months before they stop and move to a different method or they break up with their boyfriend. We don’t want to only charge for six cycles. So, if they were government patients, then we would give them all 13 or 18 pill packs, depending on what they were taking at that time. We would bill the government for 13 or 18 cycles, but then they would bring back the brown bag months later with the pills. They would take these for two cycles and come back and say, ‘I hate these.’ ‘They’re not working.’ ‘They’re making me dizzy.’ Whatever. We’ll switch them out, we would take those pills and put them in the drawer for another patient, resell them basically. We would then give them another pack of pills, and we would bill the government again for another year.”
In this scenario described by Johnson, it’s entirely possible that a year’s worth of pills for one woman were charged multiple times to the federal or state government.
The pills were also low dose, meaning that they weren’t as strong and there was a higher risk of pregnancy if the woman didn’t take them consistently. If that happened, Planned Parenthood could then conveniently offer up their abortion services.
Due to Planned Parenthood’s powerful lobbying apparatus, most of these allegations have never been fully investigated nor has any official action been taken to examine Planned Parenthood’s billing practices.
Photo from Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com
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