UNITED STATES NEWS

Texas wants Planned Parenthood to repay millions of dollars

Aug 14, 2023, 9:33 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas wants Planned Parenthood to give back millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements — and pay far more in fines on top of that — in a lawsuit that appears to be the first of its kind brought by a state against the largest abortion provider in the U.S.

A hearing was set for Tuesday in front of U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who earlier this year put access to the most common method of abortion in the U.S. in limbo with a ruling that invalidated approval of the abortion pill mifepristone.

The case now before him in America’s biggest red state does not surround abortion, which has been banned in Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. But Planned Parenthood argues the attempt to recoup at least $17 million in Medicaid payments for health services, including cancer screenings, is a new effort to weaken the organization after years of Republican-led laws that stripped funding and imposed restrictions on how its clinics operate.

At issue is money Planned Parenthood received for health services before Texas removed the organization from the state’s Medicaid program in 2021. Texas had begun trying to oust Planned Parenthood four years earlier and is seeking repayment for services billed during that time.

“This baseless case is an active effort to shut down Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Texas brought the lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act, which allows fines for every alleged improper payment. Planned Parenthood says that could result in a judgement in excess of $1 billion.

It is not clear when Kacsmaryk will rule.

The lawsuit was announced last year by Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is now temporarily suspended from office pending the outcome of his impeachment trial next month over accusations of bribery and abuse of office.

Spokespersons for the office did not return a message seeking comment Monday. Last year, Paxton said it was “unthinkable that Planned Parenthood would continue to take advantage of funding knowing they were not entitled to keep it.”

Jacob Elberg, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in health care fraud, described Texas’ argument as weak.

He called the False Claims Act the government’s most powerful tool against health fraud. Cases involving the law in recent years have included a health records company in Florida and a Montana health clinic that submitted false asbestos claims.

Elberg said it is “hard to understand” how Planned Parenthood was knowingly filing false claims at a time when it was in court fighting to stay in the program and Texas was still paying the reimbursements.

“This just isn’t what the False Claims Act is supposed to be about,” said Elberg, faculty director at Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law.

Planned Parenthood has roughly three dozen health clinics in Texas. One has closed since the Supreme Court ruling last year that allowed Texas to ban abortion.

____

United States News

Associated Press

Judge rejects religious leaders’ challenge of Missouri abortion ban

A Missouri judge has rejected the argument that lawmakers intended to “impose their religious beliefs on everyone” in the state when they passed a restrictive abortion ban. Judge Jason Sengheiser issued the ruling Friday in a case filed by more than a dozen Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist leaders who support abortion rights. They sought […]

47 seconds ago

Associated Press

Malfunctioning steam room sets off alarm, prompts evacuation at Rhode Island YMCA

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (AP) — A malfunctioning steam room at a YMCA in Rhode Island pumped out so much steam that it triggered an a sprinkler system alarm on Saturday morning, prompting an evacuation. In a statement, the Middletown Police Department said officials rushed to the Newport County YMCA in Middletown around 9 a.m. for a […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Think cicadas are weird? Check out superfans, who eat the bugs, use them in art and even striptease

FOREST PARK, Illinois (AP) — Mayumi Barrack sees a pair of mating periodical cicadas getting together, whips out her phone, says, “Hi guys!” and takes their picture. “I’m not really a bug person, but as I look more and more I feel they are adorable,” Barrack explained, noting that many other creatures — birds, squirrels, […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Police in Maine cancel shelter-in-place order after explosions and fire are reported

AUBURN, Maine (AP) — Police in Maine have canceled a shelter-in-place order in the city of Auburn after reporting that an armed person was in an area where a series of explosions and a house fire erupted early Saturday. The Auburn Police Department said on Facebook that the situation had been resolved and that there […]

9 hours ago

The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks. (Photo by George Frey/Getty...

Associated Press

Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era ban on rapid-fire rifle bump stocks, reopening political fight

The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, the rapid-fire gun accessories used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

18 hours ago

Associated Press

Couple rescued from desert near California’s Joshua Tree National Park after running out of water

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A couple hiking in the desert south of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California was rescued after running out of water, authorities said. On Sunday, the man called 911 and reported that his girlfriend was dehydrated and weak, according to a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office posted Monday […]

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Texas wants Planned Parenthood to repay millions of dollars