ENFIELD, CT — The threat to defund Planned Parenthood is always lingering, and that’s why Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said Wednesday that Connecticut has a backup plan.
If Congress blocks Medicaid funding for women who receive services from Planned Parenthood, then Connecticut will step in with $6 million to make sure those services continue, according to Wyman.
Following a tour of the Planned Parenthood office in Enfield, Wyman said there will be money in the state budget to help pay for the services if the federal government decides to change its current reimbursement structure.
“In Connecticut, Planned Parenthood provides tens of thousands of women and families access to low-cost, quality healthcare – from family planning services to critical cancer screenings,” Meg Green, a spokeswoman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. “That’s why Governor Malloy felt strongly it was important to include a provision in his budget to address a shortfall should federal dollars be restricted. We will continue to advocate for such a provision.”
Wyman, who is considering whether to enter the governor’s race but won’t say for certain until after Connecticut adopts a two-year budget, said the Democratic Party she knows supports women’s reproductive rights.
“If and when we get a budget there’s language in there that says we’ll do as much as we can, if Planned Parenthood is defunded,” Wyman said.
As far as funding Planned Parenthood, which is constantly under attack by conservatives in Congress because it aside from cancer screenings and contraception it also provides abortions, Wyman said the clinics are seeing more women with private insurance walk through their doors.
“It’s those that have insurance who are coming in and saying ‘we’re supporting you’,” Wyman said.
Susan Yolen, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said there’s been an increase in the number of women with private insurance deciding to get their pap smears, exams or their contraception through the clinics as a way to show their support.
The clinics have traditionally served women who are on Medicaid, which is a federal and state health insurance program for low-income individuals.
Yolen said about 50 percent of their 60,000 patients are on Medicaid.
Wyman, who also chairs the Access Health CT board of directors, said they are still waiting to hear from the federal government about the cost-sharing reduction payments, which have been a critical component for Connecticut’s two remaining insurance companies on the exchange.
Wyman is also overseeing a working group of state lawmakers and stakeholders to figure out a path forward if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act.
Last month, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate was unable to get enough votes to repeal the ACA, but the discussion continues, as does the threat to defund Planned Parenthood which in other states has been forced to close some of its clinics.
In Iowa, where the Republican-controlled state legislature there blocked federal funding to the organization, four clinics have closed.
In other parts of the country, last-minute private donations, have allowed the clinics to remain open.
Connecticut has 17 Planned Parenthood clinics.