Planned Parenthood of Memphis is responding to the signing of a controversial law stripping TennCare recipients of preventative health treatment at its facility.
Governor Bill Haslam quietly signed the Title X prioritization act Monday. The new law permanently allows Medicaid funds to go directly to local public health departments. That means state Medicaid patients will no longer be able to use their insurance at Planned Parenthood to get birth control, breast exams, cancer screenings, and other preventive healthcare services not associated with abortion.
Planned Parenthood representatives in Memphis say the law can be detrimental to those who depend on those services.
“This hurts patients. It prevents them from seeing a healthcare provider they choose. Specifically, in our area, reproductive healthcare is difficult to access for some people,” said Sarah Wallet, the Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Greater Memphis. “There’s a lot of stigma surrounding reproductive healthcare. This will especially hurt women of color.”
The group Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood released the following statement:
Tennessee’s Governor Bill Haslam signed HB 2251/SB 2148. Sponsored by Representative Jimmy Matlock (R-Loudon) and Senator Mike Bell (R-Cleveland), the bill threatens access to health care for Planned Parenthood patients who rely on TennCare (Medicaid).
Emboldened by the Trump-Pence agenda, Tennessee politicians are recklessly asking the administration to willfully bend the rules to allow the state to illegally bar patients from Planned Parenthood. If the Trump-Pence administration approves the waiver, TennCare patients could lose access to birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment at Planned Parenthood health centers. This is a legislative overreach to impose personal beliefs on Tennesseans with a disregard for women’s health and patients’ rights.
“This will hurt women, men, and teens in the Memphis region and have a disproportionate impact on women of color,” said Ashley Coffield, CEO of Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region. “Patients rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for providers they can access quickly who specialize in nonjudgmental reproductive health care.”
“Governor Haslam and the General Assembly continue to demonstrate blatant disrespect and dismissal of patients’ rights, which further discriminates against women, people of color, and people with low-incomes. This pushes the harmful and extremist agenda set forth by the Trump-Pence administration,” said Francie Hunt, Executive Director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood. “Our state has refused to expand Medicaid, which caused 280,000 Tennesseans to go without health care, and we have the second highest amount of hospital closures in the nation. Now is the time to trust patients and provide them with as many qualified health care options as possible, rather than restrict access and limit providers.”
The signing of this bill comes a few weeks after the 7-2 vote against the Women’s Health Equity Bill HB 2627/SB 2185, which would have proactively required coverage of contraception in a way that enshrined and expanded the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, and would have required coverage for women’s preventive services.