By Randall K. O’Bannon, NRL Director of Education & Research
On July 1, 2016, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri will merge with Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma to form a new regional “powerhouse affiliate”–Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP).
The merger is part of a larger consolidation trend that has been occurring at Planned Parenthood for some time. Earlier just this month, two major affiliates in Michigan, Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan (itself part of previous mergers) and Planned Parenthood of Western and Northern Michigan, merged to form a new $20 million statewide affiliate, Planned Parenthood of Michigan (PPMI), with twenty clinics scattered across the state.
Laura McQuade, current president and CEO of the Kansas and Mid-Missouri affiliate, told reporters that though the move in her region will involve some consolidation, it will not require layoffs or clinic closings.
“It’s harder and harder to carry a CEO and four to five VPs when you’re in a smaller geographic area,” McQuade told the Wichita Eagle. “This is all about creating a stronger powerhouse affiliate.”
The merger “makes us a stronger and a more sustainable affiliate,” McQuade told the Kansas City Business Journal.
“We believe it enables us to look as expanding access to patients, bringing services closer to them, and it also enables us to look at expanding types of services in each of our health centers.”
Clearly a conscious theme for the merger, McQuade echoed to the KC Business Journal what she told the Wichita Eagle, saying the change “ has to do with creating a powerhouse, regional delivery health care model.”
The merger gives the new Planned Parenthood Great Plains affiliate a total of eight clinics, two in Kansas (Wichita and the headquarters at Overland Park), four in Missouri (Columbia, Gladstone, Independence, Kansas City), and two in the Oklahoma City area (Oklahoma City and its suburb, Edmond).
Plans are already in the works to open a new clinic in Oklahoma City soon after the merger becomes final, bringing the total in that metropolitan area to three. While none of the clinics in Oklahoma City are currently offering abortion, Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, a spokesperson for the Kansas and Mid-Missouri affiliate, told the Wichita Eagle, “[W]e’re always keeping our options open.”
On the PPKM website announcing the merger, the expression of intent is a bit more explicit.
“Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM) is proud to announce we are expanding to Oklahoma City! Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP) will launch July 1, 2016. This means more health centers and greater access to specialized health care services including annual exams, STI testing and treatment, transgender care, Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and abortion.”
The new PPGP affiliate will be a $12 million operation, with the former Central Oklahoma affiliate contributing about a quarter of that, according to the KC Business Journal.
PPFA’s consolidation picks up speed
According to PPFA’s 1995-1996 annual report, there were 150 Planned Parenthood Federation of America affiliates twenty years ago. How many today? There are fewer than 60.
A few non-performing clinics have closed and some executives have lost their jobs. But generally, the process has been one of pruning unprofitable aspects of the business, putting smaller, weaker, less political affiliates under the management of larger, more aggressive ones with plans to expand services and increase revenues. Both of these prized goals can best be accomplished by building new megaclinics and adding abortion.
It is telling, but not altogether surprising, that Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report shows that despite a continuing decline in the number of clinics, affiliates, and even basic services like its vaunted “cancer screenings,” the number of abortions Planned Parenthood performed nationally (323,999 for 2014) remained steady and revenues at the organization were less than $10 million shy of their all time record $1.3 billion.
In other words, and perhaps to some degree due to its new business model, PPFA has hardly been affected by the steady overall national decline in the number of abortions, which is now down to just over one million annually.
McQuade told the Associated Press that “this was about a sustainable business model.” But it was clear from comments she made to other reporters that not far from her mind was the idea of her group having greater political muscle.
Already in the midst of a fight with Kansas over efforts to cut Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, McQuade told the Wichita Eagle that “When you have to fight legislative battles and legal battles on a regular basis, you have to carry a larger staff than if you’re sitting in New York City, where you might not have to fight the legislative and legal battles we have to fight in Kansas and Oklahoma.”
There are fewer Planned Parenthood affiliates and clinics today than there were twenty years ago. But don’t let that fool you. They are as powerful, and profitable, and as deadly as ever.