Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Nebraska's Battle Over Title X Funding

Here's the latest from Greg Schleppenbach, Director of the NCC's Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro Life Activities --

Fireworks erupted in the Legislature yesterday when Sen. Mike Foley offered an amendment to the budget bill to direct the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on how to distribute about $500,000 in state funds intended to subsidize pap smears and Chlamydia testing/treatment. The state has appropriated this money for about 15 years, and since its inception HHS has limited the distribution of these funds to Title X family planning clinics. As the largest Title X provider in the state, Planned Parenthood has been receiving about 40% of these funds each year. Sen. Foley’s amendment doesn’t exclude Title X providers from being eligible to receive these state funds, it simply directs HHS to open the program to non-Title X providers, including county health departments, hospitals, federally qualified health centers and individual physician offices.

The same number of women will be served under Sen. Foley’s amendment, but they would more likely be served throughout Nebraska and not just in those communities that have a Title X provider. In Lincoln, for example, the only Title X provider is Planned Parenthood. Therefore, women in Lincoln who cannot afford a pap smear or Chlamydia testing or treatment either have to go to Planned Parenthood or if they find PP offensive they must drive to Beatrice or Tecumseh to the next nearest Title X provider. Sen. Foley’s amendment would make the Lancaster County Health Dept and other providers eligible for this program so women would have more choices for these services.

After a couple hours of debate, Sen. Foley’s amendment was adopted on a vote of 29 to 6. Sen. DiAnna Schimek then offered a motion to reconsider the vote and after a few more hours of debate, that motion failed. However, the opponents of Sen. Foley’s amendment are not giving up. There will be further efforts today to undermine or remove the Foley amendment. Please pray that these efforts will fail.