Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin could face funding cuts, under legislation being circulated for co-sponsors at the Capitol. The bills seek to reduce federal funding to the health care provider, which offers abortions at a some of its Wisconsin facilities, by $7.5 million.
The bills, co-sponsored by Rep. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere), would redirect federal grants that currently go to Planned Parenthood to other programs, while also capping the reimbursement fees the provider is able to charge under the Medicaid 340B program.
Jacque says one of the bills would “reprioritize” about $3 million in federal grant money that Planned Parenthood received by having the state Department of Health Services apply for the funding. He argues “there are any number of better public health opportunities that we have, than Planned Parenthood,” such as Wisconsin’s Well Woman Program or local public health agencies.
PPWI government relations director Nicole Safar says Republicans are going to “any extent possible…to try to limit access to our funding.” She notes the state can already apply for the grants targeted in the bill, but Republicans have so far refused to provide the comprehensive pregnancy counseling that is required under the program.
The other funding measure involves provider reimbursement rates for drugs purchased through a Medicaid program. Providers get the drugs at a discount, then charge a dispensing fee, which Jacque claims is sometimes “eight times” the actual cost. The bill would limit providers to a “reasonable” dispensing fee, which Jacque estimates would reduce funding by about $4.5 million.
Safar denies that they overcharge for the medications and notes that what they are reimbursed has been negotiated with the federal government. She says the bills could cut off funding that currently helps provide about 50,000 women a year access to affordable reproductive health care, and really show that “Representative Jacque is hyper-focused at limiting access to women’s health care services, like birth control and cancer screenings, that he actually will never need.”
Jacque is also co-sponsoring a bill that would ban the transfer of remains from aborted fetuses. While similar legislation has been brought up in the past, he is hopeful there will be renewed interest in the legislation following a series of recently-released secretly-recorded videos from an anti-abortion group, which claim to show top Planned Parenthood officials talking about selling fetal remains to researchers.
Planned Parenthood argues the videos are heavily edited, and that officials were actually talking about reimbursement costs for transporting samples. Safar notes that none of their Wisconsin facilities collect tissue donations, and called the bill just another “political attack” on their operations.