When Planned Parenthood isn’t news (fraud edition)

When Planned Parenthood isn’t news (fraud edition) August 1, 2013

Is fraud a religion story? Not necessarily.

Are the actions of Planned Parenthood religion stories? Not necessarily.

But what about the larger issue of the ongoing problems that the mainstream news media have had covering abortion and other social issues related to religion? Is it worth noting here, for instance, the very odd lack of coverage of Planned Parenthood’s recent settlement over fraud allegations?

You wouldn’t probably know it from media coverage but, as one conservative think tank noted this week:

Alliance Defending Freedom’s recent analysis of state and federal audits of family planning programs suggests that in 12 states, Planned Parenthood affiliates overbilled Medicaid for more than $8 million. One federal audit of New York’s Medicaid family planning program reported that certain providers, “especially Planned Parenthoods,” had engaged in improper practices resulting in overpayment.

Despite mounting accusations of fraud, the organization that performs roughly one out of every four abortions in the U.S. has continued to ride the waves of taxpayer funding to annual surpluses. During its last reporting year alone, Planned Parenthood received over half a billion dollars in taxpayer government funding, all the while performing a record 333,964 abortions. To solidify its place as the top abortion provider in the country, Planned Parenthood announced that all local affiliates would have to begin providing abortion services starting in 2013.

I don’t remember what the original allegations of fraud in Texas were but Planned Parenthood there agreed to pay the state $1.4 million $4.3 million to settle the claim that it had fraudulently overbilled 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.

No biggie. This is just a story about the mainstream news media’s very favorite organization in the whole world paying to settle legal claims. I know that usually when other organizations — say Roman Catholic archdioceses — settle lawsuits even below a million dollars, it usually gets reported pretty far and wide. Rightly so. Certainly the country’s largest abortion provider — and a taxpayer funded one at that — should get some media coverage, no?

It’s so confusing how a private breast cancer charity choosing not to give Planned Parenthood a couple hundred thousand dollars generated thousands of stories but that same abortion group paying a $1.4 million $4.3 million fraud settlement doesn’t generate hardly any.

A quick Google search for Planned + Parenthood + fraud shows that the following outlets did pay attention. See if you can detect a pattern:

LifeNews.com: Texas Planned Parenthood’s Fraud Was $4.3 Million, Three Times More Than Announced

Heritage: Planned Parenthood to Pay $1.4 Million in Medicaid Fraud Settlement

LiveActionNews.org: Planned Parenthood pays millions to settle willful fraud, medical records tampering

HuffingtonPost/Reuters: Planned Parenthood To Settle Alleged Fraud Case With Texas

LifeNews.com: Texas Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz Must Repay $1.4 Million After Medicaid Fraud

ChristianNews.net: Planned Parenthood to Repay $1.4 Million Following Texas Medicaid Fraud Investigation

BizPacReview: Whistleblower nails Planned Parenthood, ordered to reimburse Texas for fraud

PJMedia: Texas Busts Planned Parenthood for Medicaid Fraud

Politico/AP: Planned Parenthood settles fraud case in Texas

OneNewsNow: Medicaid fraud lawsuits against Planned Parenthood will continue in three states

World: Planned Parenthood settles Medicaid fraud case

LifeSiteNews: Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast actually settled fraud case for $4.3 mil, not $1.3 mil

By my count, that is 10 pro-life, conservative or Christian media outlets and two mainstream national news services. Good for Reuters, I guess? Their story frames the fraud charge not as part of a national fraud problem for the abortion provider but as just the latest in a battle between Republican legislators and the abortion provider. But, again, at least they mentioned it. As for the Associated Press, their story is seven sentences long, includes no quotes, and could not be drier or less interesting if it tried.

It didn’t come up in my Google search but I thought I’d see about any stories in The Houston Chronicle.

Well, that newsroom did report on it, sort of.

There’s a whopping four-paragraph story headlined “Planned Parenthood finalizes $4.3 million lawsuit settlement.” That was an update of the earlier story they ran — the seven-sentence AP story that said the settlement was $1.3 million. Way to put those local resources to work, fellas! There’s also a column expressing outrage at … wait for it, wait for it … the attorney general for understating how much the settlement was and bragging about it. Because, you know, that’s the real outrage in multi-million dollar fraud cases involving the media’s favorite abortion provider, amiright? It is a stunningly bizarre column.

Isn’t it just fascinating, though, that a private breast cancer charity choosing to not give money to a massively federally funded group (that provides 300,000 abortions a year but zero mammograms) is top of the news for weeks — complete with breathless advocacy from reporters and anchors — but Medicaid fraud in the millions of dollars barely registers even the tiniest of blips in the news cycle? What’s the journalistic defense, if any?

Fraud image via Shutterstock.

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