- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Oregon pro-life activists are asking for more transparency and oversight after the government admitted to wasting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and impermissibly financing abortions with federal money.

Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, said there is a “lax” attitude in the state when it comes to “following laws related to abortion.”

“It’s disturbing but not surprising,” Ms. Anderson said. “Our current administration in Oregon is not especially concerned with tracking how they’re paying for abortions. We use state funds to pay for almost half of all abortions in Oregon.”

In a Nov. 17 letter to Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Director Pat Allen documented the myriad ways in which the agency tasked with managing the state’s $9.3 billion Medicaid program has wasted or misallocated taxpayer dollars.

Among other things, Oregon overpaid $74 million in federal funds to “dual eligible” enrollees who were old enough to qualify for Medicare and poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, Mr. Allen said in the letter.

The OHA also incorrectly enrolled an undisclosed number of unauthorized immigrants in Medicaid, rather than the state’s less expansive emergency health care program, costing taxpayers $25.7 million in “payment errors and over-claimed federal funds.”

An audit of the agency, conducted by the secretary of state and released on Nov. 29, found that 41 percent of Medicaid enrollees in a backlog of 115,200 recipients were ineligible for the benefits they received.

“Failure to address this issue in a timely fashion resulted in approximately $88 million in avoidable expenditures (from March 1 to Aug. 31, 2017),” the audit said.

The agency additionally over-claimed $1.8 million in federal funds to pay for “termination of pregnancy procedures” that were “determined not to be eligible for federal funding,” Mr. Allen said in the Nov. 17 letter.

The Hyde Amendment, first passed in 1976, prohibits the use of federal funds to finance abortions.

Ms. Anderson acknowledged the difficulty in keeping track of how many taxpayer dollars are being used to finance abortions in the state.

“We know it’s difficult to keep track of, which is why we advocate not using tax dollars for abortion in the first place,” she said.

The OHA is not the only agency ripe for scrutiny, Ms. Anderson said, pointing to Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), the state’s largest teaching hospital.

The university, which performs medical and surgical abortions at its Center for Women’s Health, received $234 million in federal funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2016.

In response to questions from the Oregon Legislative Assembly last year, OHSU said it received placental tissue and uterine lining from Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette.

“In some cases where the placental tissue is too small to be distinguished, the tissue from the embryo is received,” OHSU said in a written response. “When it can be distinguished, only the placental tissue is received.”

The university also said it purchased fetal livers and fetal thymuses from Advanced Bioscience Resources at a service fee of $230 to $340 per specimen. In total, it bought 123 specimens from Advanced Bioscience Resources.

OHSU did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

Advanced Bioscience Resources is a California-based fetal tissue procurement firm whose partnership with Planned Parenthood was documented in the undercover video investigation carried out by the Center for Medical Progress.

In one of the videos, Perrin Larton, a procurement manager for the firm at the time, describes the procurement of an intact fetus.

“I literally have had women come in, and they’ll go in the O.R. and they’re back out in three minutes,” Ms. Larton says in the video. “And I’m going, ‘What’s going on?’ Oh yeah, the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups. It just fell out.”

A service fee schedule from 2015 shows that Advanced Bioscience Resources charges $340 for second-trimester specimens.

The Justice Department launched a probe this month into Planned Parenthood and procurement firms involved in the market for fetal tissue from abortions. Citing federal statutes barring the transfer of fetal tissue for valuable consideration across state lines, Ms. Anderson said the federal government should look into OHSU’s involvement in the fetal tissue trade.

“We know that they’re purchasing body parts from abortions at varying gestational ages,” she said. “What we don’t know, because we haven’t found out from invoices and other documents that we’ve received, is whether their purchase price is appropriate and whether any of those purchases have been out of state.”

She said the university “has not been as forthcoming as they should be about where they’re getting these parts and what they’re doing with them.”

Oregon enacted legislation in August requiring state insurers to cover abortions at no expense, including for illegal immigrants.

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