ALBANY — Planned Parenthood’s decision to not take about $60 million in federal funding will have no effect on its New York affiliates, as state government had agreed to make up their loss.
The national organization’s move, announced Monday, came after the Trump administration placed what Planned Parenthood considered unacceptable restrictions on recipients of Title X funding — that they not refer patients to doctors who perform abortions.
The head of Planned Parenthood’s statewide lobbying group said Tuesday that the organization had seen the changes coming and worked with the all-Democratic leadership in Albany to limit any impact on the patients it serves.
“Unfortunately, we knew that this program has been under attack,” said Robin Chappelle Golston, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. “From a New York state perspective we were very mindful that they were going to be relentless.”
She added: “We knew that we were not going to be able to abide by these rules. We’ve been working with the governor very closely through this whole process.”
Planned Parenthood had been receiving more Title X funding than any other group; in New York’s Capital Region, its affiliates are the only recipients, other than a bureau of the state Department of Health.
Planned Parenthood is a longtime target for anti-abortion activists and many conservatives, but abortions and contraception are not all it does, Chappelle Golston noted: It is also a provider of health care to women, and sometimes the only provider available to them.
“This is not only abortion, it’s restricting care for poor women,” she said.
She said it was fortuitous that control of the state Senate switched to the Democratic Party in the November 2018 elections, ending the longstanding Republican roadblock to increased protections for legal abortion in New York.
“We have to be very grateful for the leadership we have,” Chappelle Golston said. “We were able to get a backfill through the Legislature.”
That backfill, state dollars replacing lost Title X dollars, will total about $15 million, she estimated. The money was set aside in a contingency fund in the 2019-2020 state budget.
It’s a landscape very different from places such as Alabama, Georgia, Iowa and Kentucky, where efforts have been made this year to severely limit access to abortion.
“We’re fortunate to be a state that values reproductive health and access,” she said.
Meanwhile, the state’s nine Planned Parenthood affiliates are on track to become five.
Five of them in May applied for state Department of Health approval to merge. They received preliminary approval Aug. 14.
The Mohawk Hudson, New York City, Mid-Hudson Valley, Nassau County and Southern Finger Lakes affiliates of Planned Parenthood seek to merge into Planned Parenthood of New York City, which would be renamed Planned Parenthood of Greater New York and operate 28 health centers that see about 200,000 patient-visits a year.
It would serve half the state’s counties and 65% of its population. Target date for completion of the transition is 2020.
Chappelle Golston said the transition should be all but invisible to the public, as it’s a behind-the-scenes effort toward organizational efficiency in a state that has more Planned Parenthood affiliates than any other.
“I think there is a trending toward consolidation in health care in general,” she added.
Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, based in Schenectady, has clinics in Fulton, Madison, Mongtomery, Oneida, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie and Warren counties.
Meanwhile, Albany-based Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, serving Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties, opted not to become part of the new Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, saying it believes it can better serve its communities in its current configuration.