By Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
TULSA, Okla. (Reuters) - Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, has requested that the state's Health Care Authority cut its contracts with two Planned Parenthood affiliates, citing high rates of billing errors, her office said on Thursday.
Fallin's request comes as Republican governors of several states have moved to cut funding for Planned Parenthood after an anti-abortion group released videos that it said showed Planned Parenthood officials negotiating prices for fetal tissues from abortions it performs.
Planned Parenthood has said that the videos were heavily edited and has said it does not profit from fetal tissue donation. It has challenged similar defunding efforts in other states, calling them politically motivated.
Oklahoma Health Care Authority Chief Executive Officer Nico Gomez, whose office will make any decision, has told reporters that his office has received the governor's request but will not take any action on it until after an ongoing audit by the authority is completed.
In 2015, Oklahoma paid the two Planned Parenthood affiliates $100,145 for 19,546 claims. A review of the two affiliates showed no improper use of state Medicaid funds, but showed a billing error rate of 20.3 percent rate at one and 14.2 percent at the other, the governor's office said.
In a statement released Thursday, officials with Iowa-based Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which operates a clinic in Tulsa, called the move "premature and incredibly disappointing."
“The findings of these audits are a normal part of the process in reviewing health care reimbursement,” the statement read. "Often, it is simply a matter of submitting additional documentation that supports the request for full Medicaid reimbursement," it added.
The Oklahoma governor said terminating the contracts with the two Planned Parenthood affiliates, which operate in six metropolitan locations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, will not interfere with a woman’s ability to have a free choice of healthcare provider services.
Arkansas and Louisiana, two nearby states which have launched moves to cut state Medicaid funding, have been on the losing end of federal lawsuits, with judges blocking their attempts to halt funds.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Leslie Adler)