N.H. Given Until August To Restore Family Planning Services or Lose Federal Funding

July 12, 2011 — New Hampshire health officials by early next month must prove how they can restore family planning services previously offered by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England or the state risks losing federal funding, state Health Commissioner Nick Toumpas said on Monday, the Concord Monitor reports (Langley, Concord Monitor, 7/12).

Two weeks ago, the all-Republican Executive Council voted 3-2 against a new contract that would have awarded Planned Parenthood of Northern New England $1.8 million in state and federal funds for two years. Following the decision, six PPNNE clinics last week 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 will have to reduce other services if the contract is not renewed (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/11).

Toumpas said that denying Planned Parenthood a contract limits services in certain areas of the state. The state's family planning grant program is funded primarily through the federal government, which requires that access be offered across the state. Since the Executive Council's decision, state health department officials have been negotiating with federal regulators about ways to restore some of the family planning services previously offered by Planned Parenthood, Toumpas said. The state must develop a plan for restoring services to all parts of the state by the first half of the August.

According to Toumpas, one proposal asks whether agencies already providing reproductive health care could expand. He also said there are other options, but he declined to identify them.

"There are a number of women who are receiving these services, [and] this is their only health care," Toumpas said. The contracts also provide funding for cancer screenings and some primary care services. PPNNE has been lobbying to receive approval for the denied contract. The organization has launched an ad campaign encouraging residents to contact their executive councilor.

Meanwhile, the Executive Council is reconsidering the 10 other approved family planning contracts awarded to organizations other than Planned Parenthood. The contract amounts must be adjusted downward to reflect the budget that was signed into law (Concord Monitor, 7/12).