Family planning and related preventive services for low-income women across the nation are in jeopardy.
These services include birth control, breast exams, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing, and they are used by tens of thousands of women in Kansas and millions nationwide.
“These are important services for the women who use them,” said Kari Bruffett, assistant secretary for Policy and External Affairs in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “For some women, it may be their primary care provider.”
Since 1970, the federal government has provided funding for these services through the Title X Family Planning Program. In mid-February, the House of Representatives voted to eliminate the program, which cost $317 million last year, as part of a massive spending bill that sets budget levels for the remainder of the fiscal year which ends Sept. 30.
That bill is now under negotiation in the Senate.
“We are watching it very carefully,” Bruffett said.
• 45,000 — Kansans using family planning services.
KDHE gets $2.5 million in federal money each year and $97,000 in state funding to provide them. They do this through 55 contracts with health departments and clinics.
• 4,000 — Douglas County residents using the services. The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department receives $198,000 from KDHE. Its family planning clinic operates on about $300,000, and the rest of the money comes from service fees and local taxes.
Dan Partridge, director of the local health department, said the clinic couldn’t provide the same services if federal funding were eliminated. That’s more than half of its budget. They may have to go to a fee-for-service system, which he said would be unfortunate.
“Those with low income or limited means will get disenfranchised from the system,” he said.
There was a legislative amendment to the House bill that specifically targeted Planned Parenthood. Besides losing Title X funding, it would be ineligible for any federal funding, including Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has 10 health centers that provide the same family planning and preventative services as health departments. In 2009, they provided 18,000 STD tests, 3,000 pap tests, 3,000 breast exams and birth control for 9,000 clients.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has an $8 million budget, and $1 million comes from federal funding.
“We don’t know of any way we could sustain that kind of reduction without reducing the services for women and families,” CEO Peter Brownlie said.
The rest of its funding comes from fundraisers and service fees, which are provided on a sliding-income scale. Anyone can access services regardless of their ability to pay.
At two centers — Overland Park and Columbia, Mo. — it provides abortion services. By law, no public funding is used for these services.
Representatives for U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder said by e-mail that they voted to eliminate Title X funding because they don’t support abortion. No response was given when they were notified it doesn’t support such services.
“This kind of action in Congress actually goes counter to the objectives of those who say they are opposed to abortion because by having less family planning, there will be more unintended pregnancies and there will be more abortions,” Brownlie said.
Also, Title X saves the government money. Studies have shown that for every dollar spent, $3.74 is saved in medical costs.