A subcommittee of the N.H. House Finance Committee voted 4-3 along party lines on March 22 to recommend that abortion providers receiving state funds for non-abortion work move their abortion business into a free-standing program. The vote came as part of the subcommittee’s work on the state budget for the upcoming biennium.
Next stop for the committee’s proposal is the full House Finance Committee.
Translation, as near as I can figure: if this provision winds up in the state budget – and that’s a BIG “if” – any health care provider that also provides abortions will have to create a separate legal and financial entity for its abortion business. Otherwise, the provider would not be eligible for state funding.
Here’s a report on SB 486 in Seacoast Online includes this quote from a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman regarding the bill to mandate abortion coverage within any health insurance policy that covers maternity care. Public hearing is February 18 in the Senate Commerce Committee, room 100, at the State House in Concord.
“The Reproductive Health Parity Act builds on the progress New Hampshire has made in recent years to ensure that Granite Staters’ insurance covers the health care they need, including abortion care,” said Sabrina Dunlap, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. “For those facing an unintended pregnancy, or changed circumstances during a planned pregnancy, access to timely, affordable and respectful abortion care is an essential component of reproductive health care. Passage of SB 486 will continue New Hampshire’s long history of protecting the right for patients to make their own health care decisions.”
With a nod to Cornerstone Action, and with full disclosure that I’m a Cornerstone communications consultant, let me link you to this morning’s headline from the Cornerstone blog: “Title X Grantees Announced.” Among the recipients of this federally-disbursed family planning money, with no messy intermediate stop at the New Hampshire Executive Council: Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
From Cornerstone’s post:
[The federal Department of Health and Human Services] has announced grant awards for Title X family planning funds for the grant period of April 1st 2019- March 31st 2020 and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will be the recipient of $600,000 of taxpayer money.
As you may recall, President Trump’s new rule was rumored to prohibit federal taxpayer dollars to go to organizations that promote and administer abortion as a form of birth control.
This round of 90 family planning grants for fiscal year 2019 does include some recipients of an abortion-free persuasion who had not received Title X money before, and it includes as always a lot of federally-qualified health centers which do not perform abortions. But please, don’t let anyone tell you that abortion providers have been cut out of Title X. It just ain’t so.
Quick review: Title X [that’s Roman numeral ten, not letter X] is a federal program that funds “family planning” efforts. Title X funds, while federal, are usually block-granted to states, and the states decide which contractors can most effectively carry out the Title X requirements. Abortion is explicitly excluded from Title X activity.
That’s how it’s usually (not always) done in New Hampshire, with the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) receiving the federal money, then seeking bids from contractors and submitting the resulting contracts to the Executive Council for approval. It’s common for up to eleven contracts to be awarded in New Hampshire, with each contractor covering a different part of the state. Most of the contractors are federally-qualified health centers, but three are abortion providers: the Equality Center in Concord, the Lovering Center in Greenland, and PPNNE.
Each of those abortion providers solemnly swears as part of the Title X contract that none of the money will be used for abortion. That’s the extent of the firewall. To my knowledge, no one has figured out how to divvy up the money between the abortion and non-abortion use for the utilities, equipment, office space, and staffing of a facility.
Therefore, taxpayers wanting to divest completely from involvement in the abortion industry are out of luck. You’d think a $23 million agency like PPNNE could figure out a way to separate out abortion from authentic health care: separate facilities, staff, accounts. But no. You’ve got civil rights, but the right not to subsidize abortion providers isn’t on the list.
There are two New Hampshire grantees in the latest round announced by the feds: the state HHS department, which will get $800,000 for Title X, and PPNNE, which has a $600,000 grant all to itself.
The state HHS grant for Title X will go through the usual state contract bidding process, ending with an Executive Council vote that will probably hand over the money to the usual contractors. (I’m guessing a 4-1 vote, but don’t hold me to that.)
The PPNNE Title X grant, on the other hand, goes directly to PPNNE. Does that mean PPNNE won’t reach for more money from general funds in the state budget, now being drafted? Big fat “no.” Check out this Concord Monitor article from last weekend.
Don’t blame one political party over another. There’s plenty of responsibility to go around. You can start by letting the President know what you think of the handouts from the federal HHS department. It’s an executive agency, and he’s Chief Executive.
The UL article goes on to quote PP’s spokeswoman: “Our services are generally staying the same. It’s pretty much going to be business as usual.” Yup. Pretty much. Generally.
And then comes the last paragraph: “Planned Parenthood said it plans to seek a conditional use permit from the Planning Board to address a parking shortfall if the variance goes through.”
For anyone who has followed the buffer zone issue, and for anyone familiar with the parking situation near 24 Pennacook Street, that’s an interesting sentence. Will a “parking shortfall” provide PP with an excuse to post a buffer zone, in the name of safety? What would be the terms of a conditional use permit? Would it mean setting aside some of the public on-street parking area for PP use, thus effectively imposing a buffer against peaceful pro-life witnesses without using the buffer zone law?
Or maybe “it’s pretty much going to be business as usual” is a straightforward statement. We’ll see.
The New Hampshire Executive Council is less than 18 hours away from voting on contracts with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Lovering Center, both abortion facilities. This is a second bite at the current-fiscal-year apple for PP, whose last bid for a family planning contract was rejected by the Council on a 3-2 vote.
Those who want to keep taxpayers free from collusion with abortion providers will rally before the Council meeting. So will those who think reduction in taxpayer funding is an attack on health care (“but they do so much good…!).
According to the 2014 financial report for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England – a report that is part of Wednesday’s contract proposal — PPNNE spent $998,262 on fundraising last year, $1.5 million on public policy work, and $214,000 on marketing and communication.
The PPNNE contract up for a vote on Wednesday is for $539,304. In view of PPNNE’s $20 million overall budget and more than $2.5 million spent on fundraising, marketing and public policy, no one needs to worry that denial of the contract is “defunding.”
That’s not what I’m likely to hear from PP’s partisan’s tomorrow – but it’s the truth nonetheless.