All seemed to be said and done yesterday in the fight over whether Planned Parenthood should receive county funds for its non-abortion related health care programs. The board of supervisors voted to approve its contract with the Coalition of Community clinics, the organization responsible for doling out $5.5 million in tobacco settlement funds among 19 subcontracted community clinics.
Planned Parenthood, which has received its share of the funds for nine years, was conspicuously absent from the list of clinics approved by the county Health Care Agency to receive funds this next year.
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The effort to get the county to pull its funding from the clinics began this past February, when a constituent alerted supervisor John Moorlach that Planned Parenthood was receiving county money. Moorlach and the other four board members apparently had no idea, and they voted to cut off the clinic's funding, citing their moral opposition to abortion. The funding was subsequently reinstated (because of potential illegalities), and a new set of funding rules, with specific new caveats for clinics that perform abortions, was drafted by the Health Care Agency at the direction of the board.
The Orange County Planned Parenthood clinics have been receiving about $291,000 a year for the past nine years. The funds have been used for various programs, most recently for health educator trainings and teen education about STD's, HIV/AIDS and contraception. The funds have never been used for abortions.
The clinic's absence from yesterday's roster of HCA approved proposal indicates that the new policy has, as of now, held the clinic back from securing funding for next year. Haggling over technicalities and contract rules over the past few weeks prevented Planned Parenthood from having their proposal for a new inpatient breast cancer treatment clinic approved by the health agency before yesterday's board meeting.
This doesn't mean, however, that the clinic's funding has been permanently cut off. The health care agency and Planned Parenthood have "been corresponding" about the terms of their proposal, Bob Gates, deputy agency director for indigent medical care, told the Weekly. "We'll be discussing to see if we can't come up with something that meets all the board policies," he said. If the health care agency approves the proposal within the coming weeks, Planned Parenthood will receive its $291,000 share in tobacco resettlement funds. The health care agency may notify the board, but it won't be required to bring the item to the board for a vote, said Gates.