Thursday, March 17, 2005

AG Dispute with Planned Parenthood Makes NYT

There is a story in today's New York Times about Steve Carter's attempt to get the Planned Parenthood records of 80 plus girls who were served by PP when they were younger than 14. Apparently none of the cases involves an abortion. It's all deep in the forest of admin law, a wood I have no desire to visit. But the following setup in the piece did make me wonder about something:

Staci Schneider, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, Stephen Carter, said that his office this month requested the records of some patients, younger than 14 years of age, as part of an investigation into accusations that some clinics had failed to report cases of sexually molesting children to the proper authorities. Under state law, anyone under 14 who is sexually active is considered a victim of sexual abuse.

"This office is obligated by state and federal statutes to investigate accusations against Medicaid providers for fraud, abuse and neglect," Ms. Schneider said Wednesday, "and this falls within that broad authority."

Actually, it makes me wonder about two things. First, what does the investigation of Medicaid fraud have to do with whether PP has been making required reports about possible sexual abuse? Second, if this sort of investigation is an obligation of the AG's office, why are they just getting around to it now, in the opening months of Steve Carter's second term? Or a third question: is the AG obligated to investigate, or is it just part of his "broad authority"? And if he's not obligated to investigate, why say he is and why do it? Seems like an awful nest of hornets to rile. I'm sure there is a tangle of federal and state statutes, not to mention adminstrative rules, that everyone is going to be able to argue about interminably.

Far from the Blakely Trail, where the footing is surer and to which I will now mosy on back.

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