By Kathy Ostrowski, State Legislative Director of Kansans for Life
“Planned Parenthood’ is threatening to close its Hays clinic this Friday if its federal family planning funds aren’t restored by Sept. 16,” according to the Kansas City Star.
But that money is not “its” funding. The Title X taxpayer funding belongs to the state taxpayers, to be distributed by the health department. The head of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Dr. Robert Moser, said, “Title X was not intended to be an entitlement program for Planned Parenthood.”
But the Star (recipient of Planned Parenthood’s 2006 media award) as well as the presiding judge in the lawsuit, Thomas Marten, continues to fundamentally misstate the situation.
Yes, Planned Parenthood of Kansas Mid-Missouri annually got some of Kansas’ Title X money for its outlets in Hays and Wichita. But so did another private business, Dodge City Family Planning Clinic.
All three no longer qualify for funding in Kansas. The 2011-2012 state budget directs that family planning services financed in any way under “Title X” federal rules must be contracted primarily with public health clinics and secondarily with qualified non-public hospitals or health centers that provide comprehensive health care–primary and preventative. None of the three provides preventative and primary care, in addition to reproductive-related services, as now required by state law.
Note that the Dodge City business has not sued for “its” money. But Planned Parenthood of Kansas Mid-Missouri is employing three specialized law firms to wrongly argue that federal law forbids state discretion in selecting subcontractors— which it does not.
The Kansas health department has already made arrangements for Title X service providers in Hays and Wichita, and is struggling to understand Judge Marten’s August 1 order (reissued Aug. 17) to fund Planned Parenthood.
For example, Planned Parenthood did not have a current state contract with Kansas to be restored by Marten, and a judge hasn’t the authority to create contracts between the state and private business.
While litigation continues, the state has offered to temporarily reimburse Planned Parenthood on a monthly basis, as long as a bond was posted, because this “double-paying” for services in Wichita and Hays harms the state as the money “will be likely unrecoverable …based upon [Planned Parenthood’s] claims of deficit operations and risk of business failure.”
Planned Parenthood told the court that even with last year’s Title X funding, its Hays and Wichita outlets were already operating at a $220,000 annual loss! Thus, Planned Parenthood is demanding that the state put in one-third million dollars to help float two losing businesses!
Planned Parenthood neglected to tell the Court of their $5.6 million revenues in 2009 (last reported year) with $1.9 million in donations. Kansas’ legal team complained that Judge Marten’s funding order is unfounded because Planned Parenthood can’t show that the absence of what appears to be 5% of their annual revenue ($330,000 in Title X money) constitutes “irreparable harm.”
Aside from threatening to close the Hays outlet, Planned Parenthood says it will be ending its sliding-scale fees at the Wichita outlet.
However, state defense attorneys point out that while Planned Parenthood consistently argues their business is integral to poor women, only 15% of its Title X clients are at or below poverty level. Contrast that with the new Wichita provider–the Sedgwick County health clinic–with 78% of clients at, or below, poverty level.