The Los Angeles Times asked a great question about a week ago in a story from Noam Levey and Rosie Meste: “Komen, Planned Parenthood, and Congress, what’s the status?”
I mean, this matters, right? If Susan G. Komen was aware that an investigation had revealed financial fraud or other wrongdoing, would Komen have been right to continue to give PP money from Komen’s loyal donor base? And if Planned Parenthood had been aware that such news was about to come to light, wouldn’t leadership be obliged to address the investigation and face the charges head-on?
The investigation which lies at the heart of this story was initiated in September of last year by Rep. Cliff Stearns,( R-Fla.). Back on February 1st before PP supporters unleashed their wrath on Komen, Stearns answered to the Times:
“As Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I am leading a formal investigation into taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, which receives over $1 million a day in taxpayer money. Repeated cases of Planned Parenthood ignoring state and local reporting requirements, many involving minors, and allegations of financial abuse led to this investigation – the first ever oversight conducted on this group. We are still working with Planned Parenthood on getting the records and documents for the investigation, and I’m interested in holding a hearing depending on what the investigation discovers.”
“This investigation of Planned Parenthood’s finances and use of taxpayer dollars is ongoing, and we are continuing to work with Planned Parenthood in getting the requested record and documents. I was not contacted by anyone at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and this decision was solely up to them.”
Stearns clarified his position on the motivation for investigating on February 3rd in a broadcast interview: the taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent.
Oddly, the Times missed a crucial status update on the investigation yesterday from the Alliance Defense Fund. I know I missed the explanation from Planned Parenthood for being implicated in almost $100 million dollars of fraudulent Medicaid overbilling and other financial abuses of taxpayer funds in seven states. The ADF summary also found PP directly responsible for $8 million of “waste, abuse, and potential fraud.” Of special interest to me as an advocate of women hurt by abortion is the blurred reporting lines of abortion services by the PP locations in the investigation. As America’s largest single provider of abortion services and a non-profit agency, PP should be transparent in all phases of their operation. In particular, the original impetus to the investigation, PP use of taxpayer money to fund abortions, was proven in New York:
Additionally, in the November 2008 New York State audit A-02-07-01037, HHSOIG
found that New York improperly received enhanced ninety-percent federal
reimbursement for 102 out of 119 sample claims. Of these, 96 were for services unrelated
to family planning, and 33 were for services for which no reimbursement was available –
including twenty-seven abortion procedures, and four services performed in conjunction
with an abortion. HHS-OIG found that one provider was responsible for twenty-five of
the twenty-seven abortion claims; this provider billed at least 3,900 abortion claims
during the audit period.
But for now, let’s don’t even address how billing fraud exploits the ones who actually are taxed and footing the bill.
The real story here is Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards prosecuting this case in the media last week by hiding behind the skirts of the poor. You see, poor women have nowhere else to turn but Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening and health care. So anyone who opposes PP opposes poor women and jeopardizes their health.
Well, granted, Cecile Richards didn’t put it that directly.
Here’s what she said (quoted by Politico on February 3rd) :
“I hope that there are members of Congress who will re-think their attacks not only on Planned Parenthood and on women’s health, but really think about the importance of providing preventive care for women in America, and particularly those women who have nowhere else to turn,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told reporters Friday. “Bullying and trying to make political women’s access to health care is just a losing political strategy.”
But again, what if the investigation exposed Planned Parenthood as the one bullying and exploiting poor women?
The ADF report to Congressman Stearns’ office suggests that PP is not a health care provider of last resort, but instead a Medicaid contractor guilty of overbilling and collecting government resources intended to serve as a safety net for the poor and underinsured.The fact that the CDC will refer any woman for breast health care who cannot afford insurance means that the “woman who has nowhere else to turn” is a myth and an invention.
Planned Parenthood truly is a solution in search of a problem. Susan G. Komen had it right the first time. Time to break this bond and tie the pink ribbon elsewhere.