Planned Parenthood gets clean review from legislative auditor

A legislative auditor’s review of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast operations in Louisiana — requested by some legislators — found no indication that the group has recommended abortions or billed Medicaid for anything other than allowed family planning services.

The review by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office came in response to legislative resolutions directing various agencies to investigate and monitor the practices of the group, which has broken ground on a new 7,000-square-foot clinic in New Orleans. The $4.2 million facility on the 4600 block of South Claiborne Avenue will offer abortion services that previously had not been provided.

Anti-abortion legislators last year pushed for closer scrutiny of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, pointing to practices in Texas, which included improper billing for Medicaid services and abortion quotas.

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast provides services in the Houston area as well as in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Most of the oversight called for is already required by state law.

The review involved the state Department of Health and Hospitals and the state inspector general.

“Overall, we found that DHH made payments to Planned Parenthood for allowable family planning procedure codes under Medicaid. In addition, we found no indication that Planned Parenthood had recommended that a patient have an abortion or had performed an abortion for the patients in our sample,” Purpera wrote in a letter to the resolution’s sponsors, state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, and state Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe.

Martiny said he just wanted to make sure that the Medicaid dollars were being spent “in the right place, especially after the allegations about Texas.”

Martiny added, “I was approached about them getting ready to open the largest abortion clinic in the South. If you tell me they are performing abortions and the state is paying for them, I have a problem. ... If they are abiding by the law, they have a right to operate.”

Hoffmann called the initial findings “good.” But, he added, “there are other parts to be addressed by various agencies. We will see how that goes.”

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Jewel Bush said the group is pleased with the findings. “Our patients’ health and safety are top priorities, and for nearly 30 years, we have been here for women and men in Louisiana who need access to basic, preventive health care,” Bush said.

“We hope the legislature will focus their attention to the health care crisis facing Louisiana; and we remain focused on improving and expanding access to health care for women, men and families across Louisiana,” she said.

In Louisiana, the group’s health centers provide wellness exams, breast and cervical cancer screenings, tests for sexually transmitted diseases and family planning services.

The auditor’s conclusions were based on an analysis of claims data for all 25,936 claims DHH paid to Planned Parenthood for Medicaid reimbursement during calendar year 2012. The claims totaled $641,874 for 7,677 recipients.

“We reviewed the procedure codes for the claims and determined that all were allowable codes for Family Planning provider type under which Planned Parenthood is enrolled,” Purpera said. He noted that all claims were processed through the Medicaid Management Information System “so all were subject to the Medicaid payment controls tested annually” by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

From the claims, Purpera also said 22 patients were identified who had subsequently had a miscarriage after being treated by Planned Parenthood. Medical files of six of the patients also were reviewed to get an understanding of their medical history and the circumstances surrounding the miscarriages.

“Based on the file reviews, we did not find any indication that Planned Parenthood recommended an abortion or performed an abortion for these patients,” he wrote.