Monday MONITOR

Thursday, October 20, 2011
Contact: Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717 (cell)

HAPPY 95TH BIRTHDAY PLANNED PARENTHOOD!

       Yesterday, Planned Parenthood marked its 95th anniversary. We are proud to be celebrating nearly a century of service to women and families in the U.S., as well as 40 years of service worldwide.  This occasion provides an excellent opportunity to recognize our 95-year legacy and to look to the future.  We will continue to provide essential health care services and accurate information through our health centers and online, as well as work to ensure that all women and men have the right and the means to meet their health care needs.  At 95, we’re just getting started! In the face of continued attacks from those whose ultimate aim is to deny women’s access to essential health care, including birth control, Planned Parenthood doctors, nurses and other health care professionals work to ensure that all women have a place to turn for accessible and affordable quality care.

REPUBLICAN BUDGET PROPOSAL CONTINUES ASSAULT ON WOMEN’S HEALTH: Revives Failed Efforts to Bar Planned Parenthood from Participating in Federal Health Programs and Eliminates Funding for the Title X Family Planning Program. 

PPFA Press Release (excerpted) | September 29, 2011

       Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today roundly criticized Republican leaders in the House of Representatives for releasing a FY 2012 Labor Health and Human Services appropriations package that puts politics over women’s health by reviving unprecedented proposals to take away preventive care from women, which were rightly rejected by the Senate only months ago. “This budget not only guts effective programs that keep women and families healthy, it will make women and families worse off economically, at a time when they are already struggling,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. […]  “This budget is further evidence that Republican leaders have no new ideas and are merely recycling failed attacks that undermine women’s health,” said Richards. […] The House Republican budget:

  • revives the failed attempt to prohibit Planned Parenthood from participating in federal programs like Medicaid to provide preventive health care, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, and STD testing and treatment;
  • eliminates funding for the Title X National Family Planning Program, which provides access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other family planning services to five million low-income women each year;
  • revives the failed attempt to effectively ban insurance coverage of abortion in the new health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act — taking away a common health benefit that most private health plans currently offer;
  • prevents the implementation of the groundbreaking health care reform law, including new benefits that include insurance coverage of women’s preventive services like mammograms, cancer screenings, and birth control, with no additional co-pays;
  • cuts the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative by $64.79 million — from $ 104.79 million to $40 million — and stipulates that $20 million of that money must be used for grants to provide ineffective, abstinence-only education;
  • includes a sweeping new refusal provision that undermines patients’ access to quality health care.

US HOUSE PASSES ABORTION BILL THAT WOULD LET WOMEN DIE

       As anticipated, on Thursday, October 13th, the US House passed H.R. 358 by a vote of 251 to 172.  Through this most recent assault on women’s health, H.R. 358 would take comprehensive health care coverage away from women, eliminate existing protections for women who need an abortion to save their lives, go even further than current refusal laws that undermine women’s health, and create loopholes that states and insurance companies could exploit to undermine the requirement that insurance companies provide birth control with no co-pays. 

       Additionally, Representative Lois Capps (D-CA-23) offered a motion to recommit to amend H.R. 358 so that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) continue to provide protection for a woman who needs an abortion to save her life.  However, the Capps motion was rejected by a vote of 173-249.  

       The Missouri delegation split along party lines on both votes with the Democrats voting to protect women’s health and lives.

       The Obama administration previously had issued a Statement of Administration Policy opposing H.R. 358, indicating President Obama would veto H.R. 358 if it passes Congress.

ANTI-ABORTION REP. STEARNS (R-FL) INITIATES INVESTIGATION OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD

       At the end of September, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent PPFA a letter demanding an onerous amount of records from PPFA and its 83 affiliates, some going as far back as 13 years.  This apparently politically motivated investigation is a continuation of the efforts of earlier this year to undermine Planned Parenthood, and more disturbingly, women’s access to the primary and preventive care they need. PPFA and its affiliates have a strong record of fiscal responsibility and have always complied with all laws and regulations applicable to the receipt and use of federal funds.

       Similar to other health care providers and nonprofit organizations, PPFA and its affiliates routinely work with government regulators, nonprofit foundation donors, and independent auditors to ensure compliance with all rules and regulations regarding the funding Planned Parenthood health centers receive, whether it is a private contribution, a foundation grant, or federal or state funding, such as Medicaid reimbursements.  Anytime an irregularity is discovered, it is taken seriously and handled swiftly and appropriately.

       Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in a letter to Congressman Stearns, wrote, “We are aware of no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood.  The HHS Inspector General and state Medicaid programs regularly audit Planned Parenthood and report publicly on their findings.  These audits have not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity, or other abuse that would justify a broad and invasive congressional investigation.”  Their letter continues: “It would be an abuse of the oversight process if you are now using the Committee’s investigative powers to harass Planned Parenthood again.  Your fervent ideological opposition to Planned Parenthood does not justify launching this intrusive investigation.”

       While extremely disappointed to again be a political target, PPFA has already contacted the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and is responding to the request in a timely manner.  

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH IN KANSAS CONTINUES TO BE UNDER SIEGE

       With five new restrictive bills signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback, staff at Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM) have been fighting to maintain Title X funding for more than 5,000 low-income patients at their health centers in Wichita and Hays; implementing onerous TRAP licensure regulations that do nothing to improve patient outcomes; helping parents and minors navigate the complex new two-parent notarized abortion consent law; and counseling patients who found their health insurance no longer covers abortion, a legal medical service.

       In June, in a matter of days and with no input from experts in reproductive medicine—the Kansas Department of Health promulgated regulations required by the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit on behalf of The Center for Women’s Health, an independent abortion provider, and the promulgated regulations were enjoined for all three providers in the state. The underlying bill went into effect, however, imposing dozens of other restrictions, including strict regulation of medication abortion. 

       In August, PPKM won a preliminary injunction against the State of Kansas on the issue of Title X family planning funding at the Wichita and Hays health centers. The injunction required Kansas to continue the funding, enabling PPKM to assure continuity of care for the 5,000 low-income Kansas who rely on Planned Parenthood. In addition, Dodge City Family Planning (DCFP), an independent health center unaffiliated with Planned Parenthood, was granted permission to join the suit in October. The staff at DCFP had been working without pay-checks since July 1st.

       On another front, the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri filed suit against the new law barring health insurance companies from offering coverage for abortion services except through optional, separate-premium riders. While a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of the new law was denied, the ACLU will be in federal court in early 2012 seeking to have the law struck down as unconstitutional.

www.ppmissouri.org