Planned Parenthood contracts rejected, NH may lose federal funds

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 13, 2011 6:03 PM
Planned Parenthood contracts rejected, NH may lose federal funds

By Jason McLure

LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) - New Hampshire may lose over $1 million in federal funds for family planning and women's health after the state's executive council voted to end a $1.8 million contract with six Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.

The federal government "requires that we have statewide coverage for family planning services," said Nick Toumpas, New Hampshire's commissioner for health and human services, in an interview on Wednesday.

"With the rejection of that contract we now do not have statewide access," he said.

Republicans who compose New Hampshire's five-member executive council voted 3-2 on June 22 to reject funding for the family planning contract because Planned Parenthood also provides abortion services.

Under federal law, Planned Parenthood cannot use public money for abortion and therefore funds abortions separately.

The state has until mid-August to come up with a plan to provide statewide service or face the loss of the money, Toumpas said. Returning the contract to the executive council for a revote remains an option, he added.

Planned Parenthood's New Hampshire clinics stopped dispensing prescription birth control July 1 and have turned away 393 women since then who would have otherwise received medication, said Jennifer Frizzell, a spokeswoman for the organization.

The group was continuing to provide injectable hormonal birth control and intrauterine devices at subsidized rates because it can offer those without the pharmacy license that is a component of the state contract, she added. Dispensation of birth control pills or skin patches require a state pharmacy license.

"People who would have otherwise chosen a method because it works best for their body now have a different set of considerations not based on what's best for health care but on this awkward set of limitations," Frizzell said in a phone interview with Reuters.

The group's six clinics provided services to 16,000 people last year, 68 percent of whom had annual income below 150 percent of the federal poverty limit, or $16,245 for a single person.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)