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Can Congressional GOP’s Planned Parenthood Vendetta Be Counteracted in Maryland? (Updated)

Michelle D. Anderson

Maryland Democrats have introduced a bill to direct $2.7 million to fund Planned Parenthood health-care services if congressional Republicans cut off federal funds.

UPDATE, April 11, 8:39 a.m.: Legislation that would provide funding for Maryland’s Planned Parenthood clinics should the organization be defunded by Congress became law last week. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) allowed the bill to become law without his signature, the Washington Post reported.

Maryland Democrats are the latest state lawmakers to take action to ensure people will maintain access to critical family planning services if congressional Republicans end federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

Del. Shane E. Pendergrass (D-Howard County) last week introduced a bill that would ensure a “continuity of family planning services.” The legislation would require Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to budget about $2.7 million to pay for non-abortion services offered by Planned Parenthood such as STD testing, birth control, annual exams, and screenings.

Governors in Connecticut and Massachusetts have taken similar actions by either pledging or proposing similar backup funding, if local health-care providers lose federal funding.

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The Maryland General Assembly’s fiscal analysis of the bill cited a proposed budget from Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) that would fund Medicaid services if family planning clinics lose eligibility to receive federal funds.

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in January vowed to protect reproductive health-care access by requiring health insurers to adhere to new rules on contraception access, among other regulations.

Maryland fiscal analyst Jennifer B. Chasse, who authored the bill’s fiscal impact report, told Rewire that the $2.7 million represents a slice of the maximum $4 million Maryland can receive under Title X.

The bill on Thursday passed a third reading in the Maryland House in a 90-51 vote.

The proposed measure comes as the Trump administration and GOP-led Congress aim to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The proposed repeal takes aim at Planned Parenthood by trying to sever the provider’s access to Medicaid funding for family planning and preventive health services.

The Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood hinges on the health-care organization’s providing of abortion care, even though the discriminatory Hyde Amendment already restricts the national provider from using federal money to fund abortion services.

Planned Parenthood of Maryland President Karen J. Nelson told the Baltimore Sun that 25,000 patients could be affected if the state loses access to Title X funding.

Maryland’s Title X program in 2014 prevented 15,000 unintended pregnancies, including 3,200 teen pregnancies; 1,490 preterm or low birth-weight births; and 1,018 STDs, according to the bill’s fiscal analysis.

Under HB 1083, general fund expenditures for the new program would “increase by an indeterminate but potentially significant amount” to continue to fund providers that receive Title X funding. The bill only applies to providers that received Title X funding as of December 31, 2016.

The program would reimburse clinics for any Medicaid services provided and establish Medicaid requirements “for family planning providers that are the same as requirements for other providers of the same services.”

A fiscal analysis for HB 1083 indicates that the bill, which would go into effect July 1, would not impact local health department funding or state revenue.

Pendergrass and other co-sponsors discussed the legislation during a news conference held on International Women’s Day.

“There are tens of thousands of Marylanders who depend on Planned Parenthood for their care,” state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. (D-Montgomery County), lead sponsor of SB 1081, the state senate companion bill, told the Baltimore Sun. “The state’s stepping in to continue those services, principally for poor women.”

Hogan spokesperson Amelia Chasse told the Sun that health providers had been “consistently funded in each of the governor’s three budgets,” but she declined to give a definitive answer about Planned Parenthood funding. “Any future budgetary decisions will be made and announced at the appropriate time during the [fiscal year] 2019 budget process,” Chasse said.

Hogan’s proposed budget for 2018 includes $9.9 million for the state’s Title X program, which includes $6 million in general funds and $3.9 million in federal funds. The general fund portion satisfies the maintenance of effort requirement for federal funding under Title X of the federal Public Health Service Act, according to the bill’s fiscal analysis.

Nationally, abortion care made up about 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood performed in 2014, according to its affiliate medical services data.

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