By Jonathan Allen and Jilian Mincer
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Planned Parenthood, the national health organization that reportedly lost federal funding under sweeping healthcare reform legislation, sees the bill’s withdrawal Friday as a temporary suspension, not the end of a threatens its existence.
Officials at the organization, long a target of those who oppose their abortion services, anticipate further attempts by Republicans to curb their participation in federally funded public health programs, a major funding source.
In a major setback for Republican President Donald Trump, the leaders of the US House of Representatives withdrew the healthcare bill after a rebellion by moderate Republicans and the party’s more conservative lawmakers left them without votes. Democrats rallied against him.
Planned Parenthood leaders will meet in Washington next week to plan their strategy for the next rounds in what they see as a protracted fight.
“It’s a good night’s sleep, and then we have to see what they are going to cook,” Chris Charbonneau, executive director of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, said in a telephone interview. “They’re trying to find some vehicle that they can hook up some Planned Parenthood funding to.”
Many Republicans oppose the organization, some on religious grounds, because its health services include abortions, although it does not receive federal funding or abortion reimbursements, as required by federal law.
The federal funds you receive are primarily through reimbursements through Medicaid and the Title X Family Planning grant program for your care of low-income patients.
Opponents of abortion said Republican leaders had vowed for years to end Planned Parenthood’s federal rebate, and that voters would continue to force them to do so. Before winning the presidential election in November, Trump had also promised to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood and fought to get the health bill passed.
“I’m confident that Republicans in Congress and the President will go ahead and cut funding for Planned Parenthood,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of the anti-abortion Texas Alliance for Life.
The issue “is so expensive for the electorate that it put Republicans and the president in office,” he said after the bill was withdrawn.
On the other side of the problem, Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, welcomed the withdrawal of the legislation, saying that renewed public attention to Planned Parenthood may hamper future efforts to limit its funding.
“I think in many ways it will be more difficult for them to go after Planned Parenthood, it’s not that they don’t,” he said in a telephone interview.
“I hope people recognize that Planned Parenthood did more than abortions, that they recognize that it has a broader portfolio,” he said, referring to services such as cancer screenings provided by the organization.
The proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) would have repealed many parts of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, that Democratic President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010.
Charbonneau and other Planned Parenthood officials pointed to a widespread wave of public opposition to the AHCA as one reason its moderate Republican supporters were unable to reach a compromise with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who demanded the complete evisceration of Obamacare. .
“The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows PP to continue if they stop this plan.” Trump wrote in a message on Twitter Friday morning: Public opinion polls found that the AHCA bill was unpopular with Americans, including Republican voters, and that there was broad public support for funding some of Planned’s work. Parenthood. In a Reuters-Ipsos poll conducted last month, nearly half of the 5,459 American adults surveyed said Planned Parenthood should receive federal funding; about a third said it shouldn’t.
Still, about 70 percent of those people said Planned Parenthood should get the money when asked about specific services like free cancer screenings, contraception and prenatal care. Women were significantly more likely than men to think that the organization deserved funding.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America described the Republican-proposed law as containing a “long list of anti-women’s health provisions” in a statement earlier this week. Federation president Cecile Richards applauded his withdrawal on Friday.
The organization said 2.5 million men, women and children rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, medical tests, contraception, abortions and other health care services each year at about 700 health centers across the country.
The warnings were echoed by two dozen national public health organizations, including the American Public Health Association, the American Nurses Association and the American College of Nurse-Midwives, in a letter to US lawmakers in February. They argued that in some parts of the country, particularly rural areas, Planned Parenthood was the only nearby provider of health services.