Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Planned Parenthood Responds to Audit ... Sort Of

Acting President of Planned Parenthood of Spokane, Anna Franks (pictured right with husband), today finally responded to the news, first published on this blog, that her organization was found guilty of 5 separate categories of overbilling Medicaid, and was ordered to repay at least $630,000. The statement was released through the organization's Seattle attorney, David B. Robbins.

Ms. Franks repeatedly referred to the audit as "routine". Most of the release was a regurgitation of the "dates and dollars" of the audit.

Beyond trying to cast the audit as "routine", she said:
"It was clear in the audit findings that services had been provided; however the State auditor thought the documentation was incomplete."
This, in fact, is not true. It's interesting that Ms. Franks raised the issue of whether they had billed for services that were never rendered, because so far this hasn't been discussed. The fact is, it's pretty much impossible for an auditor to determine if services were rendered, without interviewing clients, etc., which was beyond the scope of this type of investigation. All the auditor can do is see if there are chart notes corresponding to services that were billed. The existence of chart notes does not, however, prove that the services were actually provided, of course.

And in fact, much of the findings in the audit were that PP Spokane billed Medicaid for services for which there were no supporting chart notes. They did not, interestingly, discuss whether or not the procedures had actually taken place. Perhaps that is still under investigation.

As for the supposedly "routine" nature of the audit, again we think Ms. Franks protests too much. There's nothing routine about a $630,000 bill. There's nothing routine about doling out birth control without a prescription. There's nothing routine about billing Medicaid for condoms at three times the legal rate. There's nothing routine about billing Medicaid for doctor's visits that were never documented. There's nothing routine about unbundling abortion services.

As for the future, all she said was that "PPINW is strongly considering an appeal of the audit findings."

Ms. Franks, meanwhile, has declined to answer questions from the media, including the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Some critics believe this sort of defensive behavior does not bespeak confidence.

AIW has also attempted repeatedly to solicit information from her attorney, Mr. Robbins (pictured left), but his responses have been unhelpful at best, rude at worst. At first he simply demanded to know "who pays you?". We thought he might at least tell us when he had been hired by Planned Parenthood Spokane, but he dismissed the question with a "of what relevance is that?"

He did suggest, though, that his presence as an attorney for Planned Parenthood should not be interpreted as a sign that they fear a fraud charge. All of this behavior is raising more questions than it is answering.

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