AUSTIN, Texas – Texas desires Deliberate Parenthood to offer again thousands and thousands of {dollars} in Medicaid reimbursements — and pay way more in fines on high of that — in a lawsuit that seems to be the primary of its type introduced by a state in opposition to the biggest abortion supplier within the U.S.

A listening to was set for Tuesday in entrance of U.S. District Decide Matthew Kacsmaryk, who earlier this yr put entry to the most typical methodology of abortion within the U.S. in limbo with a ruling that invalidated approval of the abortion tablet mifepristone.

The case now earlier than him in America’s largest pink state doesn’t encompass abortion, which has been banned in Texas because the U.S. Supreme Court docket overturned Roe v. Wade final yr. However Deliberate Parenthood argues the try and recoup no less than $17 million in Medicaid funds for well being companies, together with most cancers screenings, is a brand new effort to weaken the group after years of Republican-led legal guidelines that stripped funding and imposed restrictions on how its clinics function.

At problem is cash Deliberate Parenthood obtained for well being companies earlier than Texas eliminated the group from the state’s Medicaid program in 2021. Texas had begun attempting to oust Deliberate Parenthood 4 years earlier and is looking for reimbursement for companies billed throughout that point.

“This baseless case is an active effort to shut down Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Texas brought the lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act, which allows fines for every alleged improper payment. Planned Parenthood says that could result in a judgement in excess of $1 billion.

It is not clear when Kacsmaryk will rule.

The lawsuit was announced last year by Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is now temporarily suspended from office pending the outcome of his impeachment trial next month over accusations of bribery and abuse of office.

Spokespersons for the office did not return a message seeking comment Monday. Last year, Paxton said it was “unthinkable that Planned Parenthood would continue to take advantage of funding knowing they were not entitled to keep it.”

Jacob Elberg, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in health care fraud, described Texas’ argument as weak.

He called the False Claims Act the government’s most powerful tool against health fraud. Cases involving the law in recent years have included a health records company in Florida and a Montana health clinic that submitted false asbestos claims.

Elberg said it is “hard to understand” how Planned Parenthood was knowingly filing false claims at a time when it was in court fighting to stay in the program and Texas was still paying the reimbursements.

“This just isn’t what the False Claims Act is supposed to be about,” said Elberg, faculty director at Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law.

Deliberate Parenthood has roughly three dozen well being clinics in Texas. One has closed because the Supreme Court docket ruling final yr that allowed Texas to ban abortion.

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