Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott reportedly used the power of two state healthcare agencies to try to crack down on abortions amid a national furor over hidden-camera videos
of the brokering of aborted fetal tissue.
reports emails show Scott's office used the Agency for Health Care Administration, which regulates facilities, and the Department of Health, which regulates physicians, to get Planned Parenthood clinics to turn over doctors' names, and to try to get the Board of Medicine to prosecute them.
Scott ordered the AHCA to inspect 16 clinics across the state, three of which were cited for allegedly performing second-trimester abortions when they were only licensed for first trimester procedures, Politico reports. Planned Parenthood contested the findings.
One email exchange between Health Quality Assurance Deputy Secretary Molly McKinstry and Polly Weaver, the deputy secretary, Aug. 4 — the day before inspection reports were released — enumerated questions, including: "What evidence did the clinic present for compliance with disposal of fetus remains?… Did everyone check the requirement about conducting the ultrasounds?… Did we review death certificates of the fetuses?"
An Aug. 5 exchange between Jon Seehawer, office manager for AHCA's Fort Myers office, and AHCA senior staff in Tallahassee shows the agency got the names of the doctors who performed disputed procedures directly from a St. Petersburg clinic. Seehawer filed complaints the same day with the state Department of Health.
But when Seehawer tried to get doctors' names at two other clinics cited, at Naples and Fort Myers, Planned Parenthood lawyer Julie Gallagher stepped in, Politico reports.
"I told [Gallagher] we would cite [the clinics] if I didn't receive the physicians' names by 10 a.m. tomorrow," Seehawer wrote to AHCA senior staff.
Ultimately, Seehawer got the names from AHCA investigators, and in an Aug. 7 email said the information was hand-delivered to the Department of Health.
Another Aug. 7 email from Allen Brown, chief analyst with the state Senate's healthcare spending panel, noted the Senate staff was "getting questions about Planned Parenthood and Medicaid."
Brown asked Joshua Spagnola, AHCA's legislative lobbyist, to gather information on the number of clinics that were Medicaid providers, how much they got paid and the steps "AHCA ha(s) to take in order to terminate a Medicaid provider agreement?"
AHCA spokesperson Shelisha Coleman said the agency was within its rights to press facilities for the information.
"Licensees are required by law to provide the agency access to, or upon request, all provider records required for inspection or other review," she said.
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