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Iowa tweaks anti-abortion family planning program

Iowa is tweaking its new state-funded family planning program that excludes abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood by restoring some eligibility to a large hospital system.

Posted: May 11, 2018 10:23 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa is tweaking its new state-funded family planning program that excludes abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood by restoring some eligibility to a large hospital system.

Some of UnityPoint Health's hospitals and clinics could soon participate again in the state's family planning program under a budget bill passed in the final days of the legislative session. The change, which needs approval from Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, allows UnityPoint's affiliated providers to sign up individually for the program by submitting paperwork confirming they don't perform abortions.

UnityPoint was kicked out of the program because some of its locations perform abortions in cases where a fetus is not expected to be viable. After Iowa Republicans passed legislation to launch a state-funded family planning program last July, UnityPoint representatives argued some of its health care providers should still be able to participate because those stand-alone facilities don't perform abortions.

Planned Parenthood said the move highlights GOP lawmakers' intention to defund its organization. The local Planned Parenthood affiliate closed four of its 12 clinics after the law excluded them from the program, which covers services such as birth control exams and counseling as well as limited testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

"While we are glad for folks in Iowa who are attempting to access reproductive health care right now that they will have a couple more options through this tweak in the new family planning program, what it makes clear is that this whole program was set on excluding Planned Parenthood," said Erin Davison-Rippey, a representative for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Sen. Mark Costello, an Imogene Republican involved in adding the exemption, said the decision was made because some lawmakers initially believed the new law would not impact UnityPoint affiliates.

"When it got applied differently, we just wanted to correct that this year," he said.

But state documents show Republican lawmakers were warned last spring that their legislation — which ultimately gave up millions of federal Medicaid dollars to create a state-run family planning program that excludes abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood — would impact UnityPoint.

"This 'fetal anomaly' exception was not contained in the final bill that was passed and enrolled," an Iowa Department of Human Services official wrote last summer to a UnityPoint executive.

The department official noted lawmakers knew the legislation would affect UnityPoint's participation.

The University of Iowa hospital and clinic system also performs limited abortions and remains barred from the program.

UnityPoint spokeswoman Teresa Thoensen said in an email the Legislature's latest action "was an essential component to ensure continuation of care to our patients and communities." She declined to answer questions.

Iowa lawmakers have agreed to spend about $3 million annually for its new family planning program, up from a few hundred thousand dollars under the Medicaid match setup. Preliminary data shows the state has paid just $285,000 in claims to health providers for a portion of this budget year, and there's a marked decline in patients and participating health care providers. State officials say the data is incomplete. Even before the switch, no state or federal money paid for abortions in Iowa.

Iowa is one of three states — along with Missouri and Texas — that have given up Medicaid dollars in recent years to run state-funded family planning programs that exclude abortion providers. Iowa appears to be the first to bring excluded organizations back into the fold, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a national research group that supports abortion rights, though each state runs their programs differently.

Reynolds has several weeks to approve UnityPoint's exemption or veto it. The governor recently approved a ban on most abortions in Iowa once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is around six weeks of pregnancy. The ban is expected to face litigation that could put it on hold before it takes effect July 1.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926931

Reported Deaths: 9740
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1809132056
Ramsey749811054
Dakota68505591
Anoka64961589
Washington41119367
Stearns34021287
St. Louis29939416
Scott26281188
Wright26260226
Olmsted22677131
Sherburne19206130
Carver1687671
Clay12219108
Blue Earth1162171
Rice11578139
Crow Wing11318124
Chisago1005281
Kandiyohi9913108
Otter Tail9908130
Benton9174128
Beltrami8249100
Goodhue822699
Douglas7967101
Itasca779999
Mower740049
McLeod723384
Winona715158
Isanti711085
Steele695034
Morrison678681
Becker631675
Polk608987
Freeborn569947
Carlton552577
Mille Lacs539479
Lyon532961
Nicollet528561
Nobles527954
Pine521143
Cass505255
Todd496443
Brown473661
Le Sueur464736
Meeker437960
Martin391344
Waseca381433
Wabasha380110
Dodge366412
Hubbard357649
Roseau320532
Fillmore310115
Wadena306040
Redwood283845
Houston275317
Renville271651
Faribault261835
Sibley256017
Pennington254830
Kanabec254437
Cottonwood232933
Aitkin225052
Chippewa222043
Pope209910
Watonwan201121
Yellow Medicine189925
Koochiching179225
Rock178429
Swift174124
Stevens170211
Jackson162016
Clearwater159421
Marshall154822
Murray152911
Pipestone150929
Lake134124
Lac qui Parle124425
Wilkin122016
Mahnomen108314
Norman10579
Grant102410
Big Stone9585
Lincoln8915
Kittson74623
Red Lake71810
Traverse6086
Unassigned563124
Lake of the Woods5285
Cook3141

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 532160

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Unassigned64520
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
Fremont98913
Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
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