By Kathy Ostrowski, Legislative Director, Kansans for Life
Contrary to an editorial blast from the Lawrence Journal World and an Associated Press story published August 21, Kansas is not suffering a permanent loss of federal assistance for reproductive health services after it prioritized dispersion to full-service health centers.
Open record information requested by Kansans for Life shows that the state’s Title X funding exceeds what it was during the last year when Planned Parenthood was getting part of it under court order.
The aforementioned AP story falsely declared that “the state has instead lost the money and many services for low-income patients have been cut.”
In fact the Title X award for Kansas in fiscal year 2016 is $2,472,000, just slightly higher than its award of $2,471,250 in 2014.
First, a little background.
Title X is federally-dispersed money designed to assist low income-qualifying women for non-abortion reproductive health services, including contraceptives and health screenings. In Kansas, Title X is distributed by the Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE).
Any licensed physician can do the elementary exams and blood draws covered under Title X. It is certainly not anything for which Planned Parenthood is uniquely capable.
It also is good stewardship for the state to allocate financial support for medical facilities that provide the poor with the full range of well-woman care (not just gynecological services, but nutritional, cardio, mental health, etc.) as well as pediatric and geriatric care for women and men.
KANSAS PRIORITIZES FULL SERVICE
Since 2007, the Kansas legislature had tried to insure that full-service health entities, especially public clinics, received Title X funding. To accomplish that goal, the legislature annually passed a budget instruction– called a proviso– which prioritized Title X grants to full-service medical facilities.
However, pro-abortion governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson annually vetoed that proviso so that Planned Parenthood would not be disqualified from accessing the Title X funds.
The proviso for prioritizing Title X grants was finally signed into law under pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback in 2011. Planned Parenthood then challenged the law in federal court.
While litigation ensued, Judge Thomas Marten ordered that Title X funding be guaranteed, not only to the plaintiff (Planned Parenthood clinics in Wichita and Hays) but also to an independent Dodge City Family Planning (DCFP) clinic!
That judge-ordered temporary payment to three financially-failing businesses is what the AP story references as a “$370,000.00 loss.” And despite this judicial “monetary lifeline” to all three limited-service businesses (in violation of the proviso), the small DCFP clinic closed and both Planned Parenthood clinics remained deeply in the red.
KANSAS WINS CONTROL
In March of 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Kansas Title X prioritization proviso. Planned Parenthood then dropped their legal challenge and accepted that both clinics were no longer eligible for Title X in Kansas.
Subsequently, the 2015 Kansas Title X federal award was reduced by $229,950, a one-time adjustment after the two Planned Parenthood clinics were removed from the Kansas grantee eligibility.
But the 2016 Title X funding federal award, in effect as of July 1, exceeds the 2014 award.
In other words, there is no reduction. The current award is just above our state’s pre-litigation amount.
Back to the AP story that has been generating headlines. The meme is that Kansas is being denied Title X funding and that women are therefore underserved. That is wholly unsubstantiated.
Where did that assessment come from? A self-serving claim by Planned Parenthood and a suggestion by the Sedgwick County Health Department Director that “People have fewer places to go, and for those with limited means that may make utilizing those services even more difficult.”
“Fewer place”? Only two limited service medical clinics have closed: DCFP and the Hays Planned Parenthood clinic. KDHE funds 47 facilities under Title X.
The bottom line is that tax funding belongs to true, full-service medical providers–not as a subsidy to a private chain of abortion providers