Congressional Republicans succeed in blocking federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says he will propose that state taxpayers pay for any lost revenue.
“Planned Parenthood saves lives and those who seek to defund them should be ashamed of themselves,” said Meg Green, a Malloy spokeswoman. “Let’s be clear – these attacks disproportionately impact low-income individuals seeking basic health services. That’s why Governor Malloy felt strongly it was important to include a provision in his budget to address a shortfall should federal dollars be restricted.”
However, the exact cost for Malloy’s suggestion isn’t known and it comes at a time when the state is staring down a projected budget deficit of $1.7 billion and many popular programs are on the chopping block. Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, which includes Connecticut and Rhode Island, receives more than $5 million in government funding a year.
Malloy included language in one of his budget bills that reads: “If any family planning clinic is no longer eligible to receive federal matching funds or if federal law restricts the rights of a medical assistance recipient to obtain services from a family planning clinic, services that are otherwise covered by the medical assistance program may be funded by the state.”
A Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act released this week includes a section stipulating that any agency that provides abortions other than in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother cannot receive federal reimbursement through Medicaid. President Donald Trump said he would preserve federal payments to Planned Parenthood if the group stops providing abortions.
Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, a Democrat from Meriden who is House chair of the appropriations subcommittee on human services, said she believed there would be support among legislators to include the funding for Planned Parenthood in the $20 billion state budget.
“I think we have an obligation to support women’s health and if the federal government deems they don’t want to, we as a state should pick it up,” she said. “I think on both sides of the aisle there are individuals that may have some issues with this, but I don’t believe that in the state of Connecticut you can consider it a partisan issue.”
Christine Palm, an analyst for the legislature’s Commission on Women, Children and Seniors, said: “While we believe it is the job of the federal government – and not states, municipalities or philanthropies – to provide this coverage, we applaud the governor for his proposal to fill that funding gap.”
In Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has taken a similar approach to Malloy, saying he’s prepared to use state funds to make up for a cut of about $2 million.
The so-called “defunding” of Planned Parenthood would be achieved primarily by blocking low-income Medicaid recipients from using their insurance there. About 60 percent of Planned Parenthood’s 2.5 million patients nationwide are on Medicaid. The agency receives about $500 million in federal funding each year, mostly through Medicaid reimbursement.
While Planned Parenthood offers a variety of women’s health services, it has come under scrutiny for its role as an abortion provider. No federal funds that go to Planned Parenthood pay for abortions, under federal law.
“Planned Parenthood does not save lives. Planned Parenthood takes lives,” said Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut. “President Trump has brilliant called the bluff of every supporter of Planned Parenthood, including our state government. He has said that he will fund Planned Parenthood if only they get out of the abortion business. In doing so, he has made it clear, that every statement of support for Planned Parenthood … is about abortion.
Susan Yolen, vice president of public policy and advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said the agency’s services end up saving money in the long run, and that increased access to contraception made available through the Affordable Care Act had led to a decline in the teen birth rate and a reduction in abortions in Connecticut.
“Each dollar spent on family planning saves a little over $7,” Yolen said, citing an analysis from the Guttmacher Institute. She said she didn’t think the issue would be as divisive at the state Capitol as it is in Congress. “We’ve talked to a number of Republican House and Senate members who are quite comfortable with this issue,” Yolen said.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the fate of language to strip funding from Planned Parenthood making it into the final version of a health care bill is uncertain. Already, some moderate Republicans have come out against the cuts.
“Republicans as well as Democrats will reject this,” Blumenthal said.