Nov 19, 5:46 PM EST

Oklahoma governor seeks end of Planned Parenthood contracts

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is urging the state's Medicaid provider to cancel its contracts with two Planned Parenthood affiliates, citing what she called a "high rate of billing errors."

The governor announced Thursday that she's asking the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to terminate contracts with Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma in Oklahoma City and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Tulsa.

Fallin said the authority reviewed payments to the two affiliates and found billing error rates of about 20 percent for Oklahoma City and 14 percent for Tulsa, though no improper use of state Medicaid funds was discovered.

"These results are alarming," the two-term Republican governor said in a letter to Nico Gomez, CEO of the authority. "More than one in every seven bills submitted for payment to your agency by these providers are inaccurately coded or insufficiently documented. These errors result in overbilling to the Oklahoma taxpayer."

Gomez said an audit of Planned Parenthood is ongoing and that he will comply with the governor's request if it confirms the initial findings. Fallin does not have the authority to cancel the contracts.

Agency officials said the billing error rates for other health care providers were not immediately available. The Associated Press Thursday filed a request under the state's Open Records Act seeking the average billing error rate of Medicaid providers in the state and the ten providers with the highest billing error rates.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, Angie Remington, called the governor's letter "premature and incredibly disappointing."

"Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma are currently reviewing the results of the audits and both agencies have every intention of responding through the appropriate channels once we have," it said.

Several states are trying to cut off Planned Parenthood funding, citing undercover videos released by anti-abortion activists who say the footage shows Planned Parenthood officials talking about the illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit.

Fallin did not cite the videos in her letter. Her communications director, Michael McNutt, said they were not considered in her request since Planned Parenthood does not perform abortions in Oklahoma.

Elizabeth Nash, a senior policy analyst with the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, said the states of Arizona and Indiana tried to kick Planned Parenthood affiliates out of their Medicaid programs in 2011 and 2012, efforts that were halted by federal judges. Four more states - Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas - are making similar attempts, Nash said.

"It's certainly about defunding Planned Parenthood and not about billing errors," Nash said, adding that Planned Parenthood had a strong history of providing high quality care to women.

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