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Politifact Confirms AUL’s Assertion

Politifact has never refuted the fact that “the [Government Accountability][1] Office reported last year that it couldn’t determine how much federal funding Planned Parenthood received.” Rather, Politifact’s assessment has confirmed this fact as reported by AUL in “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood.”

In Poltifact’s attempt to dismiss a different charge, that there could be “missing” money, it recounted the various ways – offered by Planned Parenthood Spokesman Tait Saye – in which the GAO Report would necessarily fail to capture the extent of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding.[2]

For example, according to Politifact and Planned Parenthood Spokesman Saye, “Planned Parenthood sometimes gets money from Medicaid, a state-federal partnership that offers health insurance to the poor. The GAO report does not appear to count money from Medicaid,” and, “Planned Parenthood has more than 80 affiliates, many of which get subcontracts paid for with federal funding. The GAO report noted that it only counted money for 21 affiliates.”[3]

First, it should be noted that the AUL Report does not mention “missing money.”  The AUL Report addresses, as the GAO Report confirms, the federal government’s lack of knowledge regarding how much federal funding Planned Parenthood receives.   Whether or not Planned Parenthood knows how much federal money it receives does not negate that problem.  In fact, the AUL Report calls for Planned Parenthood’s internal audits to be turned over to Congress, so that the lawmakers charged with overseeing these funds can exercise oversight of Planned Parenthood’s collection and use of federal funding.

The problem that the AUL Report documents was highlighted in 2010 when the GAO conducted a report of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding from 2002-2008 at the request of several Congressmen.  As a result of limitations in its data collection, the GAO acknowledged “expenditures in this report may understate the actual amount of federal funds the selected organizations and their affiliates spent.”[4]

The limitations in GAO’s data collection, outlined by Politifact and Planned Parenthood Spokesman Saye, are significant.  Nearly 75 percent of Planned Parenthood affiliates were not accounted for in the GAO report.  In addition, the “sometimes” (averred to by Saye) that Planned Parenthood receives Medicaid funding is substantially funded by the federal government, and trends shows that in the last decade it has been significantly  more meaningful to Planned Parenthood than the word “sometimes” may imply.  Though a “state-federal partnership,” the federal government share for Medicaid “family planning” services is 90 percent.[5] For the past decade, Medicaid “family planning” funding has “far surpass[ed] the Title X national family planning program, and other programs.”[6] Thus, failure to capture Planned Parenthood’s federal Medicaid funding, along with three quarters of Planned Parenthood affiliates federal funding altogether, is anything but trivial.

Juxtaposing GAO’s finding with other publicly available documents also demonstrates that the GAO report’s “understatement” of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding is substantial.

If the 2010 GAO report captured the extent of Planned Parenthood’s federal expenditures, then the percentage of Planned Parenthood’s total government revenue that would have come from the federal government (as opposed to other funding sources such as state governments) between 2002 and 2008 would have been only 30 percent.[7] This would be in stark contrast with prior GAO reports that show that from 1998 through 2001, PPFA expenditures of federal funds accounted for over 70 percent of its reported government revenue.[8]

However, Planned Parenthood affiliates certainly received more federal dollars through Medicaid between 2002 and 2008 than were reflected in the GAO report.  Consider that the California audit of Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties found that this one affiliate overbilled the government in excess of $5 million in the fiscal year ending in 2003,[9] whereas the GAO report found all Planned Parenthood affiliates expended only $2.6 million in Medicaid funds that same fiscal year.[10]

The GAO Report itself acknowledges the weaknesses in its data collection.  Politifact and Planned Parenthood Spokesman Saye confirm what the facts, as reported by AUL, show: the weaknesses are substantial.

[1] As a provision of the GAO Human Capital Reform Act of 2004, Pub. L. No. 108-71, 118 Stat. 811 (2004), the GAO’s legal name was changed from the “General Accounting Office” to the “Government Accountability Office.”

[2] See Planned Parenthood Funding: Did the GAO really find millions missing?, Politifact, available at http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/mar/25/worldnetdaily/planned-parenthood-funding-did-gao-really-find-mil/ (last visited Oct. 3, 2011).

[3] Id.

[4] U.S. Gen. Accountability Office, GAO-10-533R Federal Funds for Selected Organizations 25 (2010).

[5] Section 1903(a)(5) of the Social Security Act and 42 C.F.R. §§433.10(c)(1) and 433.15(b)(2) authorize 90 percent federal funding for family planning services.

[6] See Guttmacher Inst., Women’s Issue Brief: Medicaid’s Role in Family Planning 5 (Oct. 2001).

[7] See U.S. Gen. Accountability Office, GAO-10-533R Federal Funds for Selected Organizations 25 (2010). See also AUL Report, Appendix I. Planned Parenthood’s Annual Financial Reports.

[8] See U.S. Gen. Accounting Office, GAO-03-527R Federal Funds: Fiscal Year 2001 Expenditures by Selected Organizations Involved in Health Related Activities (2003); Gen. Accounting Office, GAO-02-81R Federal Funds for Reproductive Health (2001); U.S. Gen. Accounting Office, GAO/HEHS-00-147R Federal Funds to Nonprofit Organizations (2000). See also AUL Report, Appendix I. Planned Parenthood’s Annual Financial Reports.

[9] Letter from Jan Inglish, Chief, Med. Rev. Branch, Cal. Dep’t of Health Servs., to Bob Coles, Vice President & Chief Fin. Officer, Planned Parenthood of Sand Diego & Riverside Counties (Nov. 19, 2004).

[10] U.S. Gen. Accountability Office, GAO-10-533R Federal Funds for Selected Organizations 25 (2010).