The Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) is representing Sue Thayer, a former Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Clinic manager in a lawsuit filed in March, 2011. The complaint by law was not allowed to be made public until a court unsealed it which happened recently. The ADF attorneys filed suit under a federal law that allows “whistleblowers” with inside information to expose fraudulent billing by government contractors.
Thayer, who is a former manager of Planned Parenthood’s clinics in Storm Lake, IA and LeMars, IA has sued under both the federal and Iowa False Claims acts. The suit alleges that Planned Parenthood knowingly committed Medicaid fraud from 2002 to 2009 by improperly seeking reimbursements from Iowa Medicaid Enterprise and the Iowa Family Planning Network for products and services that were not legally reimbursable under those programs.
Thayer in the lawsuit alleges that Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, now known as Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, filled nearly 500,000 false claims with Medicaid from which Planned Parenthood received and retained nearly $28 million. If the court rules in favor of Thayer, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland could be ordered to pay both the federal and Iowa governments as much as $5.5 billion in False Claims Act damages and penalties.
In the lawsuit, Thayer alleges that in order to enhance revenues, Planned Parenthood implemented what is called the “C-Mail” program which automatically mailed a year’s supply of birth control pills to women who had only been seen once at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Those women, the lawsuit explains, were usually seen by personnel who were not qualified health care professionals.
Planned Parenthood’s cost for a 28-day supply of birth control pills mailed to clients was $2.98, but Thayer asserts that the actual Medicaid reimbursement received by Planned Parenthood was $26.32. After being seen only once clients were mailed thousands of unrequested birth control pills. The lawsuit also alleges that when the Postal Service returned the pills in some cases Planned Parenthood would resell the same birth control pills and bill Medicaid again instead of crediting Medicaid or destroying the pills.
The suit also claims that Planned Parenthood coerced “voluntary donations” for services and then billed Medicaid for them. In effect Planned Parenthood not only falsely billed Medicaid, but also took money from low income women by getting them to pay for services that Medicaid was intended to cover in full.
“During my last years working at Planned Parenthood, it became increasingly clear to me that not all of their policies and protocols were completely legal and ethical,” Thayer said in a released statement yesterday. “I believe it (the lawsuit) is an important piece in the nationwide effort to shed light on the darkness and deception surrounding America’s largest abortion provider – Planned Parenthood. It seems that God can use all those years I spent working at Planned Parenthood for His good.”
The lawsuit Thayer v. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. Des Moines attorney J. Russell Hixson is assisting with the case.
Update: I was reminded about a comprehensive report that Americans United for Life compiled a year ago entitled, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood.” Be sure to check that out.