May 14, 2014 — U.S. and Kansas health officials said Monday that they would ensure family planning services remain available in areas served by two Planned Parenthood clinics that could close under a state law, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
Planned Parenthood recently dropped a lawsuit challenging the law, which requires the state to allocate federal Title X family planning funding to public health departments and hospitals, rather than the specialty family planning clinics (Hegeman, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/12). Although a federal judge put the law on hold in 2011, a three-judge panel from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling this March and permitted the state to cease the funding to Planned Parenthood while the lawsuit continued (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/2).
Court documents show that the clinics were operating at a loss before they lost access to an annual $330,000 in Title X funding. According to the documents, the clinics provided low-income patients with roughly 9,000 birth control visits, 3,000 pap tests, 3,000 breast exams and 18,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections annually.
Planned Parenthood likely will announce its decision about whether to continue services at the two affected clinics -- one in Hays and the other in Wichita -- later this week, according to spokesperson Elise Higgins.
Health Officials Respond
Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokesperson Sara Belfry said that the agency is "looking right now at making sure people across Kansas have access to family planning services" and will "continue to evaluate" the situation.
Belfry acknowledged that blocking the funding to Planned Parenthood means there is no Title X provider in Ellis County, but she noted that other providers could apply. She also said that Sedgwick County Health Department could potentially take on the displaced patients in that area, although it is unclear how the department could accommodate what would amount to a more than 200% increase in its patient load.
Meanwhile, HHS spokesperson Tara Broido wrote in an email that the agency "will assure that [Title X] services continue to be provided in the geographic areas and to the populations listed in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's funded Title X application" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/12).