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HHS Takes Over Contracting Process for N.H. Family Planning Services

HHS Takes Over Contracting Process for N.H. Family Planning Services

September 9, 2011 — The federal government will decide how to award a Title X family planning contract in New Hampshire after the state's Executive Council voted against awarding the contract to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the state was unable to find other providers to offer the services, the Nashua Telegraph reports (Landrigan, Nashua Telegraph, 9/9).

In early July, the all-Republican Executive Council voted 3-2 against a new contract that would have awarded PPNNE $1.8 million in state and federal funds for two years. After the decision, PPNNE's six centers in the state stopped dispensing contraceptives because the organization operated under a limited retail pharmacy license that was contingent on having a state contract. PPNNE President and CEO Steve Trombley said the organization also would have to reduce other services if the contract was not renewed.

In August, New Hampshire Health Commissioner Nick Toumpas informed HHS officials that state health officials did not plan to restore family planning services previously offered by PPNNE (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/22). Toumpas stressed that the state no longer has a role in deciding who gets the contract, adding, "As we have relinquished the funds, we have no say in this matter." He noted that there is no "guarantee" that PPNNE would receive the contract, although there was "not a well spring of interest from others. ... These programs by themselves are not money makers" (Nashua Telegraph, 9/9).

Toumpas said federal officials last week put out a request for proposals to fill the contract. The responses were due on Wednesday, and federal officials told the state that they were using an expedited review to award the contract. A PPNNE spokesperson declined to verify if the organization has communicated with HHS about the matter (Langley, Concord Monitor, 9/9). Jennifer Frizzell, a spokesperson for PPNNE and senior policy adviser at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Action Fund, said the organization is optimistic that it will be able to provide family planning services in the state (Nashua Telegraph, 9/9).

State lawmakers and advocates opposed to publicly funded family planning programs criticized the federal government's role in awarding the contract. Councilor David Wheeler (R) said he has contacted New Hampshire lawmakers in Congress to see if they can help block the federal government from awarding the contract to PPNNE (Nashua Telegraph, 9/9). Councilor Dan St. Hilaire, who also opposes the contract, criticized the state for not making enough of an effort to find a new provider before ceding responsibility to the federal government (Concord Monitor, 9/9).