February 18, 2013
Today Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced the closure of four family planning health centers in Shawano, Chippewa Falls, Johnson Creek and Beaver Dam between April and July of this year. These closures are a direct consequence of the Legislature’s elimination of funding benefiting patients at Planned Parenthood in the last budget cycle. Over the past year, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin worked to minimize the impact of the Legislature’s significant budget cuts on our patients. Despite efforts to sustain services to these patients for over a year without state funding, Planned Parenthood has been forced to end health care services in these four health centers. These unfortunate health center closures will result in the disruption and a loss of over 11,400 health care services for approximately 2,000 patients including lifesaving cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, annual exams, pregnancy tests, STD testing and treatment, HIV screening, and referrals to a network of community resources. Planned Parenthood will maintain health care services in 23 health centers across the state.
“For 78 years, Planned Parenthood of of Wisconsin has been providing high quality health care including lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams, birth control, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections to approximately 80,000 women and families in 27 health centers across Wisconsin,” said Deb Bonilla Vice President of Patient Services. “Continued patient care is our top priority. Health center staff are working with the affected patients to identify health care alternatives to minimize the impact of these closures.”
Nearly 165,000 Wisconsin women who are in need of publicly supported reproductive and sexual health services go without needed health care. Despite this unmet need, during the last budget cycle Governor Walker ended state funding for 12,000 women who receive health care at Planned Parenthood. This coupled with the Governor’s recent rejection of federal funds and the resulting drastic rollback of BadgerCare coverage will increase the amount of women who do not have access to health care. These politically motivated actions will have a significant impact on women seeking affordable health care.
“Women are going to have to drive even longer distances just to get basic health care like wellness exams, cancer screenings and birth control,” said Deb Bonilla, Vice President of Patient Services. “We are doing all we can to ensure that women get the care they need, but in some instances the resulting barriers to care will make health care access very difficult.”
In all four of these communities, Planned Parenthood is the only reproductive health provider. Uninsured or financially constrained patients seeking health care will need to travel outside of their county and in some instances up to an hour to receive essential health care services. For some women, this added burden could make the difference in whether they access routine cancer screens, STD tests, treatment or birth control.
“Cutting funds and turning away resources tied to the Medicaid program when people are going without essential health care will negatively impact community health and cost taxpayers’ money,” said Nicole Safar Public Policy Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. “Barriers to preventative and lifesaving diagnostic health care will most certainly result in an increase of the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions, undetected cancer occurrences and higher STD/HIV rates. This year we will be watching closely to see what impact this budget will have on Wisconsin communities and the women and families that rely on Planned Parenthood.”
At Planned Parenthood, we remain unwavering in our belief that all people deserve access to high quality and affordable health care. As the state’s largest non-profit reproductive health care provider, we will continue to be there for our patients to provide affordable and quality health care and to advocate on their behalf to keep them safe, healthy and strong – no matter what.