County OKs Planned Parenthood program funds

County supervisors agreed Friday to a recommendation by the Board of Health to reinstate funding for
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County supervisors agreed Friday to a recommendation by the Board of Health to reinstate funding for several Planned Parenthood health programs cut Jan. 1 because they were not covered by state aid.

The programs included education about sexually transmitted diseases, pre-birth Lamaze and lactation training, and sexual assault prevention and rape counseling, according to county Public Health Director Kathleen Farrell Strack.

The programs were spotlighted by several supervisors concerned about possible duplication of services as well as keeping county costs down for programs not getting state reimbursement.

“We have to be willing to say no to some programs,” said Finance Committee Chairman Robert Mann, R-Blenheim.

After a lengthy debate about whether programs were also available under an individual’s insurance, Medicaid or other county or charitable organizations, supervisors voted 13-3 to continue the already-budgeted funding in the current 2008 county budget.

Opposed were Mann, Cobleskill Supervisor Roger Cohn and Middleburgh Supervisor Dennis Richards.

“If we have funding to cover it … let’s leave it in, to make sure we have time to evaluate this,” said Board Chairman Earl Van Wormer III.

“If we can prevent one rape or one situation, it’s money well spent,” Van Wormer said.

While favoring continuing the funds, Richmondville Supervisor John Barlow said “this needs to be sorted out to see who or what agency can do what.”

Strack said the programs were not included in the county’s annual municipal public health services plan submitted to the state.

In the 2009 budget, Strack said she intends to detail budget items to identify funding for Planned Parenthood or other contracting agencies.

Whether the programs affected since January have been continued locally by Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson Inc. was unclear Friday. An official for the Schenectady-based agency, which has an office in Cobleskill, could not be reached.

Strack on Friday said she cut funding in January after discovering not all the programs previously allocated in the 2008 county budget were covered by state aid.

Although various amounts were cited by Mann and other supervisors during Friday’s discussion, the $20,150 budget line adopted in the 2008 county budget last November was listed simply as being for screening for sexually transmitted diseases and cancer.

About $11,000 of that was not covered by state funds, a fact Strack said she discovered last December while “realigning the contracts to what the state would cover.”

Although not specifically listed, the total was budgeted for contracts with Planned Parenthood to provide various services, according to county Treasurer William Cherry.

Strack said cancer programs had already been moved to other parts of the 2008 budget, but health screening for STDs and HIV continued to receive funding throughout the year under that category.

“It was determined that there were [Planned Parenthood] programs that had been expanded and were ongoing,” Strack said, “but the budget doesn’t clearly indicate what is state aid and what is funded by the county taxpayers.”

About two months ago, Planned Parenthood asked that the funds for the three education programs be reinstated, and the seven-member county Board of Health agreed, Strack said.

It’s still to be determined if any repayments would be made to Planned Parenthood from January through June.

“I’m not entertaining anything retroactive,” Strack said after the supervisors meeting. “That’s still to be discussed … but permission was only given today [Friday.]”

Categories: Schenectady County

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