Obama Administration Protects Access to Health Care for Millions of People
While the rule provides strong protections, it could face attacks.
MADISON – On Wednesday, the Obama Administration finalized a new rule that will protect birth control, cancer screenings, and other basic health care for more than 4 million people, including 35,287 in Wisconsin. The rule ensures patients can access care at qualified health care providers, including Planned Parenthood. The Obama Administration’s rule makes it clear that it is against the law for states to block people from accessing care at a health center because the organization also provides safe, legal abortion. The rule garnered widespread support in the call for public comment, with 91% of the roughly 145,000 responses in favor of the rule.
Title X, the nation’s family planning program, is meant to ensure that every person, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or whether or not they have health insurance, has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care. The rule ensures those most in need – those who have very low incomes or lack health insurance – still have access to lifesaving care, such as cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, and well-woman exams.
“The Obama Administration is making sure no one stands in the way of the care that people need. For many women, not being able to go to a Planned Parenthood health center means that they don’t have a cancer screening or access to birth control,” said Tanya Atkinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. “Every person deserves access to quality, affordable health care from a provider they know and trust. People in Wisconsin know that reproductive health care is not about politics. Planned Parenthood will leave no stone unturned to protect our patients’ access to care.”
Planned Parenthood health centers care for approximately 1.5 million patients through Title X – roughly one third of the more than 4 million people served by the program. Six in 10 women who access care from a family planning health center consider it their main source of health care. For many patients across the country, Planned Parenthood health centers are the only places they can turn to for reproductive health care. More than half of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are in rural and underserved communities.
People with low incomes and communities of color are two groups that have historically faced systemic barriers in accessing quality health care, and who benefit most from these protections. In 2014, 15 percent of Planned Parenthood patients were Black, more than 360,000 people, and 23 percent of Planned Parenthood patients were Latinos, more than 575,000 people. Seventy-five percent of Planned Parenthood patients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts – in fact the American Public Health Association called the idea “ludicrous.”
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin is the advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. PPAWI engages in legislative and educational activity and works to elect candidates to office that support these goals.