Dear Planned Parenthood Family,
In November 2013, I reached 20 years of leadership for our Planned Parenthood, and the Board of Directors is recognizing and celebrating these years of service and accomplishments during the coming months. It sounds trite to say that the time has flown as I never expected to be a "Company Girl," but the passion for our continued struggle, the joy of working with such a tireless and talented local and national staff and the wonder of the gifts of time, money and advocacy given so selflessly by the Board Members, volunteers and donors has kept me energized and focused on the women who need our services.
That motivation has been especially helpful as we dealt with the challenges we faced this past year. Our affiliate joined in the national effort to get the Affordable Care Act rolled out in our communities by educating patients and organizing teams to call and travel door-to-door to help community members with questions and encourage sign-ups. With this policy change, women will finally have the opportunity to access health care without a financial penalty for being female, and will benefit from the preventive care of mammography, pap smears and access to birth control, all with no copayment. As a trusted essential community health provider under the law, we are here to help our patients access that care, no matter what.
Yet the complexities of business operations have increased the expense of keeping our doors open and ready for these newly insured patients. Negotiating this new world of health care with electronic health records and adopting systems for accepting health insurance is a great challenge to have. But our work toward this broader mission has impacted our margin and we are grateful to our supporters for their commitment and generosity in securing the financial gap during this time of great transition.
As we focus on reaching out to our patients, we also face an alarming number of political challenges. The opposition to family planning and abortion services has dramatically increased in state legislatures, cutting off funding and access to care. More than 700 restrictive provisions were introduced in early 2013 related to reproductive health care, sex education and birth control, with more than half focused on abortion access. So many of these laws, as we’ve seen in Texas and North Carolina, lead to unnecessary and expensive regulations that could put Planned Parenthood abortion providers -- those who also provide vital preventive family planning services -- out of business. It's startling to think that Florida may become the point of access to care for these mostly poor women throughout the southeast. And we must be prepared to engage in our own upcoming legislative battles!
Despite the somber atmosphere, we remain optimistic that the resilience that Planned Parenthood leaders have provided for almost 100 years of struggle will prevail and that our daughters and granddaughters will benefit from this century old effort. The majority of Americans support our work, as recent research and election results have demonstrated. Thanks to the continuing support of so many in our service area, we will continue fulfilling our mission by caring for even more people in the months and years ahead. No matter what.
Barbara A. Zdravecky