The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit reinstated a case brought against Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Iowa by one of its former employees who alleges the abortion giant defrauded and abused taxpayer funds.
Susan Thayer, a former facility director of Planned Parenthood, filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the federally funded abortion provider, but a district court judge dismissed the case the following year, states Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represents Thayer.
According to a press release by ADF, the lawsuit claims that Planned Parenthood submitted “repeated false, fraudulent, and/or ineligible claims for reimbursements” to Medicaid and failed to meet adequate medical standards.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Planned Parenthood billed Medicaid for abortion-related services in violation of federal law, sought to obtain partial payments from Medicaid patients while it billed Medicaid for the full amount, billed Medicaid for contraceptives without examinations or prescriptions, and billed Medicaid for services that were more costly than those actually provided.
In its decision to reinstate the case, the panel of three federal appeals court judges wrote:
[W]e conclude that Thayer has pled sufficiently particularized facts to support her allegations that Planned Parenthood violated the FCA [False Claims Act] by filing claims for (1) unnecessary quantities of birth control pills, (2) birth control pills dispensed without examinations or without or prior to a physician’s order, (3) abortion-related services, and (4) the full amount of services that had already been paid, in whole or in part, by “donations” Planned Parenthood coerced from patients. Thayer adequately alleges the particular details of these schemes, such as the names of the individuals that instructed her to carry out these schemes, the two-year time period in which these schemes took place, the clinics that participated in these schemes, and the methods by which these schemes were perpetrated.
The Des Moines Register observes the appeals court agreed with the lower court that Thayer’s argument was not strong enough to reinstate her claim that Planned Parenthood’s actions led to inappropriate claims for hospital Medicaid payments for abortion-related services.
Thayer held that Planned Parenthood employees told patients who bled heavily following abortions that they should go to hospital emergency rooms and inform medical personnel they had miscarriages. She claimed that the hospitals would then bill Medicaid for treating the women–action that violates federal law that prohibits payments for abortion-related services.
ADF filed the lawsuit on behalf of Thayer under the federal False Claims Act and the Iowa False Claims Act, both of which permit “whistleblowers” to expose fraud by government contractors.
According to ADF, Thayer was fired by Planned Parenthood because she opposed “webcam” abortions in which abortion drugs are prescribed to women without an in-person meeting with a doctor. An Iowa court upheld the Iowa Board of Medicine’s new ban on “webcam” abortions on August 19 after Planned Parenthood challenged the ban.
Planned Parenthood, according to the Register, denies that it dismissed Thayer due to her opposition to “webcam” abortions and described her as a disgruntled employee.
“Americans deserve to know if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are abusing it,” ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox said. “No matter what people believe about abortion itself, everyone can agree that Planned Parenthood should play by the same rules as everyone else. We look forward to continuing our defense of the American taxpayer in this case.”
ADF recently submitted an updated report to Congress on Planned Parenthood’s abuse of taxpayer funds.
The report confirms the existence of 44 “known external audits or other reviews of Planned Parenthood affiliates’ financial data and practices,” which suggest the national abortion provider’s practices “resulted in losses to the American taxpayer of more than $115 million” from healthcare funding programs such as Medicaid.
“Nearly every known audit of Planned Parenthood affiliates has found overbilling,” the ADF report states.
According to the Register, on Friday, Planned Parenthood said in a statement that there is “no merit” to Thayer’s lawsuit and denied the seriousness of the court’s ruling.
“The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed completely two of her claims and referred the remaining claims back to the district court to consider Planned Parenthood’s defenses that its actions were at all times consistent with applicable state and federal regulations,” Planned Parenthood said. “The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s dismissal of those remaining claims on narrow legal grounds, without addressing whether those claims have merit.”
In February of 2013, 72 members of Congress called upon the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the amount of taxpayer funding Planned Parenthood receives and how the funds are used.