Editor's Note: This story has been updated with statements from a Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast representative and Attorney General Greg Abbott.
The Texas attorney general’s office announced Wednesday that it obtained a $1.4 million settlement with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast for overbilling the state’s Medicaid program.
"Texas' ability to help the poor is hampered by actions like those Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast was accused of committing," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement. "Actions like this harm the very people who need access to health care."
The Planned Parenthood affiliate billed the state’s Medicaid program “for products and services that were never actually rendered, not medically necessary, and were not covered by the Medicaid program,” according a news release from the AG’s office. “For example, state investigators determined that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast falsified material information in patients’ medical records in order to support fraudulent reimbursement claims to the Medicaid program.”
"The allegations in this complaint are baseless, and we are ending this case as a practical matter," Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said in a statement. She added that continuing the litigation would have been too lengthy and costly given "the hostile environment for women's health" in Texas. "We are ending this lawsuit in order to devote all of our time and energy to delivering high-quality, affordable health care," she said.
The AG’s office opened the investigation after a whistleblower lawsuit was filed against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast alleging fraudulent billing practices. As the state and the federal government jointly fund the Texas Medicaid program, a portion of the settlement will be returned to the federal government.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast announced last Thursday that three of the clinics it operates — in Bryan, Lufkin and Huntsville — will close at the end of August. Melaney Linton, CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, told the Tribune that the closures were the result of lost public financing since 2011 when the state reduced family planning financing and banned abortion-affiliated providers from participating in the Texas Women’s Health Program.