Governor Walker Suddenly Ends Planned Parenthood’s Role Providing Care in Four WI Counties Leaving Women and Health Providers in the Dark
In what appears to be yet another politically motivated effort to end health care services coordinated by Planned Parenthood, Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith, a Governor Walker appointee, indicated that he is ending the state’s 16 year partnership with Planned Parenthood to facilitate breast and cervical cancer screenings as a part of the Wisconsin Well-Women program in Winnebago, Outagamie, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties. This sudden and unexpected decision was communicated in a phone call to staff earlier this month with no further explanation or written notice to help direct existing patients. Because no replacement staffing or health services plan has been communicated to Planned Parenthood or any of the public health providers in the four affected counties, up to 1,000 women in the Fox Valley are likely to lose access to lifesaving cervical and breast cancer screenings, referrals and treatment starting January 1, 2012. Planned Parenthood issued an open letter to Governor Walker and Secretary Smith today demanding information on how to guide women’s continued cancer care in these four affected counties.
“Since the inception of this program in 1995, Planned Parenthood has been a valued and proud partner with the State of Wisconsin in administering the Well Woman program,” said Teri Huyck, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. “Planned Parenthood’s role has been regarded as a model by our health care partners and valued by community members—regardless of political affiliation To suddenly and inexplicably cut Planned Parenthood out of the fabric of care in these counties without a clear plan for how to care for these women needlessly puts their health and lives at risk,” stated Huyck.
Thanks to a grant from the CDC, the State of Wisconsin allocates $130,000 to Planned Parenthood each year for the coordination of breast and cervical cancer screenings, referrals and treatment to underinsured women ages 44 – 65 under the Well Woman Program in four counties. It does not appear that any other coordinator in the state of Wisconsin will have their Well Woman Program disrupted.
Without a plan by the state for alternative health care coordination under the Well Woman Program in these counties, at risk women and those recently diagnosed with cancer will lose access to their cancer care services immediately after the holidays when timely medical treatment is critical to successful health care outcomes.
“We call on Governor Walker and Secretary Smith to provide Planned Parenthood and our public health partners with a clear plan for how to ensure the continued care for the 1,000 women currently coordinated by Planned Parenthood in the Well Woman Program. Time is of the essence and without immediate information providing a clear path for continued cancer care, women’s lives will be put at grave risk.” Huyck concluded.
For over 75 years, Planned Parenthood has been a trusted nonprofit health care provider that provides professional, reliable, and quality health care — including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, and STD testing and treatment — to over 70,000 women and men across Wisconsin.