Planned Parenthood: Group of Male Politicians, Led By Mike Pence, Vote to Claw Back Critical Health Care Protections for 4 Million Title X Patients

This comes less than a week after GOP retreat on the ACA Repeal

Washington, D.C. –(ENEWSPF)–March 30, 2017.  Less than a week after Republican Congressional Leadership faced a stunning rebuke on their bill to repeal the ACA and block access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, anti-women’s health politicians have found a new angle. This morning, Vice President Mike Pence —  in a highly unusual procedural move — cast the deciding vote to send an anti-women’s health bill to the Senate floor. If the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, it would overturn a rule that protects health care for more than 4 million people who rely on Title X, the nation’s family planning program.

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“Mike Pence went from yesterday’s forum on empowering women to today leading a group of male politicians in a vote to take away access to birth control and cancer screenings. There’s a reason they could barely get enough votes to get this bill through a procedural step: People are sick and tired of politicians making it even harder for them to access health care, and they will not stand for it. Four million people depend on the Title X family planning program, and this move by DC politicians would endanger their health care. This would take away birth control access for a woman who wants to plan her family and her future. Too many people still face barriers to health care, especially young people, people of color, those who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes.  We will never stop fighting for the right of every person to access the care they need.”

The current rule reinforces that it is against the law for state politicians to block people from accessing care at a health center of their choice because it also provides safe, legal abortion. This is already illegal, as a court in Florida found just this past summer. To date, every court to consider the issue on the merits has ruled that state politicians cannot block access to care at Planned Parenthood through the Title X family planning program.

However, this move could have far-reaching implications for people’s access to health care through the Title X family planning program across the board, and could embolden states to discriminate against family planning health care providers, both Planned Parenthood health centers and independent clinics. For instance, when Kansas cut access to reproductive health care providers across the state, it hurt patients who relied on both Planned Parenthood and independent clinics for Title X care. After Kansas’s policy went into effect, the number of Kansans who received care through Title X fell 37 percent. A similar policy in Texas alongside state budget cuts devastated the entire safety net, shuttering independent clinics and Planned Parenthood health centers, and led to a 77 percent decrease in women served.

When it was introduced by the Obama Administration last year, the rule garneredwidespread supportin the call for public comment, with91 percent of the roughly 145,000 responses in favor of the rule.

Title X, the nation’s family planning program, helps ensure that every person, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or whether or not they have health insurance, has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care. The rule ensures those most in need – those who have very low incomes or lack health insurance – still have access to lifesaving care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman exams.

People with low incomes and communities of color are two groups that have historically faced systemic barriers in accessing quality health care, are less likely to have health insurance, and who benefit most from these protections. In 2014,14 percent of Planned Parenthood patients were Black, more than 360,000 people, and 23 percent of Planned Parenthood patients were Latinos, more than 575,000 people. Seventy-five percent of Planned Parenthood patients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).

The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has beenresoundingly dismissed by experts –  the executive director of the American Public Health Association called the idea “ludicrous.” Planned Parenthood health centers care for approximately 1.5 million patients through Title X – roughly one third of the more than 4 million people served by the program. More than half of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are in rural and underserved communities. For many patients across the country, reproductive health care providers are the only places they can turn to for health care.

Background on Title X:

Simply put, Title X helps ensure more than 4 million people have health care in this country. The nation’s family planning program offers preventive health care services to those most in need.This is the only way that millions of women who have low incomes or are uninsured have access to birth control, cancer screenings, STI tests, and other basic care.

  • Eighty-five percent of the people served by our nation’s family planning program have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and 48 percent are uninsured.
  • In 2015 alone, Title X provided nearly 800,000 Pap tests, breast exams to 1 million women, nearly 5 million tests for STIs, and 1 million HIV tests.  
  • In fact, 6 in 10 women who access care from a family planning health center consider it their main source of health care. For 4 in 10, it’s their only source of care (source:Guttmacher).
  • Approximately 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients benefit from the nation’s family planning program, 78 percent of whom live with incomes of 150 percent of the federal poverty level or less, the equivalent of $35,775 a year for a family of four in 2014. Approximately 20 percent of these patients identify as Latino/a; and approximately 14 percent identify as Black.

Planned Parenthood’s critical role:

  • Planned Parenthood health centers provide preventive care to approximately 1.5 million patients served by the nation’s family planning program. We serve roughly one-third of the program’s clients, although Planned Parenthood health centers comprise 10 percent of publicly supported safety net family planning centers.
  • Planned Parenthood health centers are located in the communities where access to care is most needed. More than half of Planned Parenthood’s health centers across the U.S. are in rural and  underserved communities with limited access to health care.Seventy-five percent of Planned Parenthood patients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).
  • Planned Parenthood health centers are also considerably more likely to offer Title X patients a broader range of contraceptive methods than other providers. In a study of Community Health Centers (CHCs) that reported an independent family planning clinic in their largest site’s community, 69 percent reported referring their patients to family planning providers, like Planned Parenthood health centers, for family planning care.

Public health experts agree:

  • Following the closure of Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas, Mike Austin, chief executive of Midland Community Healthcare Services (MCHS)says: “I hate to say it, but I think an awful lot of women just opted to go without care.” He goes on, “We are seeing a subsequent rise in STDs and a subsequent rise in unplanned pregnancies. And I’m sitting here going, ‘See? I told you so. This is what happens.’”
  • “Over the last 100 years, Planned Parenthood has played a critical role in advancing public health in this country,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “For a century, their leadership and dedication to increasing access to the full range of reproductive health services has not wavered. Planned Parenthood is an integral part of our nation’s health system.”
  • For many women in America, Planned Parenthood is the only place where they are able to get needed quality care.” – Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD, MBA, FACOG, immediate past president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist.
  • “Put simply, it takes the entire spectrum of providers, including Planned Parenthood, to meet the needs of the growing population of low-income people without access to reproductive and other basic health care services. We work in conjunction with Planned Parenthood for family-planning and HIV services. We do referrals back and forth, so that people can receive services in the setting that they’re most comfortable.” –  Randall Ellis, senior director of government relations for Houston, TX FQHC Legacy Com­munity Health Services
  • “The assertion that community health centers could step into a breach of this magnitude is simply wrong and displays a fundamental misunderstanding of how the health care system works.” – Sara Rosenbaum, J.D., Founding Chair of the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
  • “You can’t just cut Planned Parenthood off one day and expect everyone across the city to absorb the patients.”  –said Stephanie Taylor, Louisiana State Office of Public Health

Blocking reproductive health has devastating consequences:

  • After Kansas defunded Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care providers, the number of people accessing birth control, cancer screenings, STI tests, well-woman exams, and other care through the Title X program fell by more than 14,000.
  • A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood in Texas was associated with a 35% decline in women in publicly funded programs using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27% increase in births among women who had previously accessed injectable contraception through those programs.
  • Blocking patients from care at health centers has a disproportionate impact on communities of color, who already face systemic barriers in accessing quality health care. For example, in Texas, researchers found that more than half of women reported at least one barrier to reproductive health care. Spanish-speaking women from Mexico were more likely to report three or more barriers.

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With over 650 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.