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Tennessee General Assembly Passes Budget that Undermines Women's Health

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Joan Carr
Director of Community Affairs
(901) 725-3008


Published: 05.21.11| Updated: 05.21.11

MEMPHIS, TN — Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR) sharply criticized the Tennessee General Assembly for passing a budget with an anti-women’s health care amendment that would end family planning funding for Planned Parenthood patients in Tennessee.

In a calculated, politically motivated budget maneuver, Sen. Stacey Campfield, D-Knoxville, and legislative allies added an amendment to the Tennessee Department of Health budget denying Planned Parenthood, the largest and most qualified family planning provider in the state, the opportunity to provide Title X federal family planning services to women and teens.

“It is outrageous that extremists in the Tennessee General Assembly would deny women access to preventative health care through the Title X program,” said Barry Chase, President of PPGMR. “Thousands of Tennesseans are now at risk of losing access to vital health care and birth control that allows them to prevent unplanned pregnancies, provides testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and screenings for breast and cervical cancers.”

The amendment to the 2012 appropriations bill stipulates that only government agencies may receive Title X family planning funding, even though Planned Parenthood has been a trusted family planning provider in Tennessee since the 1970s.

Shelby County Health Department Director Yvonne Madlock said in a letter to the Tennessee Department of Health that “Shelby County does not have the ability to take on the additional substantial financial cost of operating a larger [family planning] program or the administrative costs associated with sub-contracting these funds to other potential local providers.” That means thousands of women and teens in Shelby County and West Tennessee will have no access to family planning services.

The Title X program is the nation’s family planning program that provides federal funding for preventative health services including birth control, annual exams, cancer screenings and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment. No state tax revenues go to the Title X program and by federal law, no Title X funds pay for abortion services.

PPGMR has been reimbursed $747,900 in Title X funds fiscal year 2011. Each year, under the Title X program, Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region provides approximately 5,000 annual exams, more than 1,900 HIV tests, nearly 7,000 tests for Chlamydia and gonorrhea, and comprehensive sexuality education to more than 5,000 clients in the health center and through outreach events. PPGMR provides an additional $400,000 in funding to continue providing services to patients after the grant funding has run out for the year. The county will now have to assume that additional cost.

For every dollar of federal Title X funding spent on family planning services in Tennessee, the state saves an estimated $6.37 that would otherwise be spent in TennCare related costs for maternity care.

“It is unconscionable that lawmakers from East and Middle Tennessee are dictating how Shelby County should run its family planning program,” said Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis. “Generations of women in Memphis and West Tennessee have relied on Planned Parenthood for preventative health care they could not receive anywhere else. To attack women’s rights and health care access for political gain is shameful and should not be tolerated by
Tennessee voters.”

This amendment is bad public policy. It will leave thousands of women and teens in Shelby County and West Tennessee without access to vital health care services and will lead to increased health care costs for the state.

FACT: The Title X funds at issue can only be used for family planning services, including annual exams, Pap tests and birth control. By federal law, Title X funding in no way pays for abortion.

FACT: More than 95% of PPGMR Title X clients are low income (150% of poverty or below). Patients are charged according to their ability to pay.

FACT: The Shelby County Health Department has said it does not have the staff or capacity to serve the about 5,000 patients that PPGMR sees each year, nor does it have the ability to absorb the financial cost of providing the services—an estimated additional $500,000 per year that will have to come from local tax revenues.

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Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region (PPGMR), founded in 1938, is an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. PPGMR’s mission is to ensure broad public access to reproductive and related health care through clinic services, education, advocacy and community partnerships in serving 42 counties in West Tennessee, North Mississippi and East Arkansas.

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