In 2011 I filed a lawsuit alleging Planned Parenthood of the Heartland fraudulently billed the residents of Iowa $28 million dollars through a cunning and complex Medicaid scheme.
The details of the suit, filed with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, were under seal by court order until July 9, 2012. Now that the case is public, I am able to provide a bit of background regarding why I decided to file this case.
I worked as a Center Manager for Planned Parenthood for nearly 18 years. While managing the Storm Lake facility, I became aware that Planned Parenthood “illegally billed Medicaid for services related to elective abortions,” as The Des Moines Register has accurately reported.
I noticed that Planned Parenthood was getting around bans on using federal dollars, Medicaid dollars, for abortion by separately billing the steps involved in abortion. This means that our tax dollars fund nearly all of the abortion procedure except the actual fee for killing the baby.
In addition, I observed that Planned Parenthood was regularly prescribing birth control pills to women who never had any interaction with a clinician. I gradually realized this was not good medical practice when local physicians started calling to ask how so many women were obtaining prescriptions without ever seeing a doctor.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland also mailed thousands of unrequested birth control pills under their program called “C-mail.” This was a big money maker for the abortion giant.
Planned Parenthood purchases birth control supplies at deeply discounted rates. For example, their cost for a package of Ortho TriCyclenLo was $2.98, yet a cycle of pills given or mailed to a patient would result in a bill to Medicaid for $35. The taxpayer funded Medicaid program then reimbursed Planned Parenthood $26.32 per cycle. This is a profit of $23.34 per cycle.
Unwanted pills were often returned to Planned Parenthood, but instead of crediting Medicaid or destroying the returned pills, they were resold and Medicaid was billed yet another $35 for the same pack of pills. This means that for their $2.98 cost, Planned Parenthood was often paid $49.66 of your tax dollars.
Worse yet, Planned Parenthood employees were instructed to solicit a “voluntary donation” from every Medicaid eligible woman. We were told to ask for a payment of 50% of their total bill, plus $10 per cycle of pills.
Nearly all clients, even very low income women, felt obligated to pay, but this “voluntary payment” never appeared on the Medicaid bill. Every service and supply was billed at full cost even if the patient made a very large “donation.”
I know of no other medical provider that requests a payment from Title 19 patients.
In short, it became increasingly clear to me that not all of Planned Parenthood’s policies and protocols were completely legal and ethical. I came to realize just how extensive the questionable practices were and decided that I must speak up. I believe I was terminated by Planned Parenthood when I voiced opposition to their latest scheme, telemed abortions.
For all these reasons, my whistleblower lawsuit against Planned Parenthood of the Heartland was filed.
Sue Thayer, Director of Cornerstone for Life Pregnancy Resource Center in Storm Lake, Iowa, serves on the board of directors for Life Right Action.