Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DSHS Knowingly Violating Hyde Amendment, Using Federal Tax Dollars to Fund Abortions

In this exclusive report, AIW can now reveal the results of an investigation into Washington and other states in which we have learned that they are routinely violating federal law.

Since 1976, it has been illegal to use federal Medicaid money to pay for abortions. States that opted to subsidize the abortion industry through Medicaid had to make sure to carefully segregate funds so that abortions were only paid for out of state Medicaid dollars. (Medicaid is a federal program with a complicated funding formula, but in brief, it's funded from a mix of federal and state monies.)

But the Medicaid program also includes a relatively little-known program called "Medicaid Transportation". This program pays for the travel costs to and from medical appointments that are covered by Medicaid. The rationale is, apparently, that a doctor appointment is no good if you can't get to it.

Since states like Washington (and California and New York) pay for abortions under Medicaid, the travel to and from the abortion clinic is also picked up by the Medicaid program.

Readers may remember our coverage of the scandal last year in which a Ballard High School student was taken from school for an abortion without her parents' knowledge, all arranged by the schools' "Health Clinic" (run by Swedish Hospital). During this investigation we also discovered that Hopelink, an organization that milks unwitting churches and other groups into partnership to help feed the hungry, is running secret "Abortion Taxis" that shuttle girls and women to and from abortion clinic appointments, often without their parents' knowledge.

Hopelink is the contracted Medicaid Transportation Broker for King County. This means that Washington State's Department of Health and Human Services (DSHS) contracts with them to run the Medicaid Transportation system for this county. The whole state is covered by a network of local organizations who are awarded this lucrative contract each year.

While trying to discover exactly how many "Abortion Taxis" Hopelink was doing each year, we learned that DSHS was failing to require Hopelink (or any other contractor) to bill them in such a way that they could track abortion appointments. The result is that Hopelink et al are paid with a mix of federal and state Medicaid dollars. So the Hyde Amendment, which explicitly forbids the use of federal tax dollars to pay for abortions, was being completely ignored.

We have put calls into the office of Susan Dreyfuss, the erstwhile Republican from Wisconsin who now runs DSHS, asking what they plan to do to fix this situation. Our calls were studiously ignored. We've also contacted Doug Porter, who runs Washington State Medicaid. Crickets. Ditto from Heidi Robbins-Brown, Porter's executive assistant secretary.

Jim Stevenson, spokesman for DSHS, did respond to our inquiries. He told us that the department's payer system didn't allow them to track payments in a way that would enable them to discern abortion clients from others. In other words, they never set up a system that would allow them to comply with Hyde.

He did say that they are installing a new system this year that will allow them to comply with federal law going forward, but there are no plans to reimburse the federal government for the funds illegally distributed to Hopelink and other organizations over the past few decades. We will be keeping a close eye on it.

"But our intent is always to bill all Medicaid charges correctly," claimed Mr. Stevenson. Color us unconvinced.

What makes this story more interesting is that it apparently involves every state that pays for abortions under Medicaid. This includes large, leftist states like New York and California. Dan McConchie, with Americans United for Life (AUL), tells us that this issue has never been litigated before. We hope some pro-life attorneys will pick this up and hold the governments of these lawless states accountable.


Anonymous said...

If this is truly a violation (is transporation to the abortion prohibited by Hyde, or jsut the abortion procedure?), it can be litigated under the False Claims Act by filing a whistleblower complaint ("Qui Tam"). The plaintiff will get a percentage of all the money recovered. Not paying back money received in error is a false claim; deliberately not repaying it is fraud. Call a Medicare/Medicaid savvy attorney.

Mary E. said...

Thank you for the tip. We will look into pursuing that.