Planned Parenthood Ducks Overbilling Claims

     (CN) - Years after a whistle-blower brought Planned Parenthood's billing practices under fire, the group need not face a duplicative action, a federal judge ruled.
     The lawsuit anti-abortion activist Jonathan Bloedow filed in 2011 under the False Claims Act claims that Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest defrauded the U.S. government by allegedly overbilling for contraceptives.
     Planned Parenthood had faced similar claims six years earlier in Los Angeles, however, from a former employee. That suit led to a federal Inspector General report about Medicaid billing practices for drugs.
     The government declined to intervene in Bloedow's action, and Planned Parenthood moved to dismiss it for lack of jurisdiction under the public disclosure bar of the False Claims Act.
     U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ordered the dismissal Friday, finding that Bloedow failed to show that he was an "original source" and that there had no previous public disclosure of his allegations against Planned Parenthood.
     "A report indicating to the public the government's awareness of the same type of billing practices among family planning clinics generally suffices to establish prior public disclosures of the allegations," the 11-page order states.
     While Bloedow worked to investigate Planned Parenthood's billing practices, "that labor was not unmediated by other people and he did not see the alleged fraud with his own eyes," Pechman wrote.
     "As an outsider to Planned Parenthood's operations, it is clear that Mr. Bloedow is far from the kind of classic whistleblower the statute envisions," she added.