Monday, May 20, 2013

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Closes Chippewa Falls Health Center

More sad news from the inbox:
Loss of Cancer Screens, Birth Control Supported by Governor Walker,
Senator Moulton, and Representative Bernier

MADISON- Today, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin closed its health center in Chippewa Falls after 28 years of caring for thousands of patients. This center closure and those in three other communities comes as a direct result of budget cuts directed at Planned Parenthood’s patients supported by Governor Walker, Senator Moulton and Representative Bernier in the last budget cycle. Despite the cost-effective health benefits and need for continued access to preventive, essential health care, Governor Walker, Senator Moulton and Representative Bernier voted to end care for their constituents at the only health care provider offering affordable, essential reproductive health care in Chippewa Falls. Patients seeking cancer screens, wellness exams, birth control, and STD testing and treatment will now need to travel to the Planned Parenthood health center in Eau Claire. The governor’s current budget proposal threatens the availability of existing affordable patient care at providers like Planned Parenthood unless the public responds.

“For 78 years, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has been providing high quality health care for up to 70,000 women and families and we will continue to put the needs of our patients first,” said Tanya Atkinson Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. “Ensuring every patient continues to receive affordable, quality health care, without interruption, remains our top priority. Senator Moulton and Representative Bernier’s previous votes to block health care access, their implicit support of the governor’s health care proposals, and misunderstanding of their own community’s health care needs and provider options challenges the future availability of affordable health care. Voting to eliminate the only source of affordable, preventive, lifesaving health care in their own community underscores just how out of touch Senator Moulton and Representative Bernier are with the needs of their constituents.”

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin remains committed to maintaining access for patients in its 23 remaining health centers, but cannot do it alone. Governor Walker’s decision to turn away federal resources that would fill health coverage gaps in Wisconsin, coupled with his budget proposal to end BadgerCare coverage for women making over $11,490 a year is a challenge to the future of women’s health.

“We call on those who value continued access to affordable, lifesaving health care to call on Senator Moulton and Representative Bernier to reconsider their stance on shutting down patient care at Planned Parenthood,” continued Atkinson. “Hard-working families who are struggling in this economy need the security of quality health coverage so they can receive health care when they need it, without facing huge medical bills.”

As a leading provider and advocate for women’s health care across the state, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand that continued access to BadgerCare so often makes the difference between access to cancer screenings and birth control, or going without. According to a recent article in the Chippewa Herald the only other health center in Chippewa County that provides care to people without health insurance does not provide any reproductive health care, does not take appointments, and is seeing an increase in need. They used to refer to Planned Parenthood in their community and are now referring to the Planned Parenthood in Eau Claire.

One in five women in America has been to a Planned Parenthood at some point in her life. For many women, Planned Parenthood is their only source of health care. Planned Parenthood is their health care provider, community resource, and advocate. Without the continued availability of BadgerCare, many women will have no other affordable health care options.

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Chippewa Falls Closure Quotes
According to Chippewa Falls County Public Health Director Jean Durch:
Durch said it is disappointing to see the center close. "Anytime there are decreased options for people to receive health care, it is a loss for the community," she said.
Eau Claire Leader Telegram February 19, 2013: http://www.leadertelegram.com/news/front_page/article_a03e4428-7a56-11e2-8d06-0019bb2963f4.html

According to a Planned Parenthood patient:
“I’m tired of politicians who have access to health care working to take away important health resources that people like me trust and rely on,” she said. “I implore the governor and our elected leaders to stop the attack on women’s health and instead work to protect and improve access to essential health care providers.”
Chippewa Herald February 18, 2013: http://chippewa.com/news/local/planned-parenthood-blames-funding-loss-for-closure-of-chippewa-falls/article_eed610e8-79de-11e2-93c0-001a4bcf887a.html

Background Information
Governor Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature eliminated funding for patients accessing reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood in the 2011-2013 Biennial State Budget. The services provided by Planned Parenthood include birth control counseling and options, lifesaving cervical and breast cancer screenings, annual exams, STD testing and treatment, Well Women Exams, pregnancy testing, HIV testing, and colposcopies (advanced cervical cancer tests).

Investing in women’s health is a non-partisan issue as it contributes to healthy women, men, and families for Wisconsin while saving tax payers money. For every $1 spent on family planning, taxpayers save $4 (The Guttmacher Institute).

The elimination of state funding to Planned Parenthood in 2012 resulted in the loss of funding in nine of Planned Parenthood’s 24 family planning health centers in Kenosha, Winnebago, Eau Claire, Shawano, Wood, Chippewa Falls, Dodge, Fond du lac, and Jefferson Counties. These health centers serve 12,000 women each year and in eight of the nine counties, Planned Parenthood is the ONLY family planning provider.

According to the latest data, there are 282,000 women in Wisconsin in need of publicly funded reproductive health care services. Current provider networks and funding sources provide care for only 95,000 patients. The vast majority of these patients do not have access to affordable health insurance and receive assistance from various public funding sources to access this basic care.

In 2008, the network of family planning providers in Wisconsin averted 24,300 unintended pregnancies, 12,100 abortions, and saved taxpayers $94 million in averted health care costs.

Closure Facts
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is closing four health centers in Beaver Dam, Shawano, Johnson Creek, and Chippewa Falls. Health center staff at the four affected health centers have been serving the communities for decades: Beaver Dam since 1977, Chippewa Falls since 1984, Shawano since 1979, and Johnson Creek since 1999.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin health centers will close on the following dates: Shawano April 19; Chippewa Falls May 16; Beaver Dam June 14; Johnson Creek July 19.

These four health centers provide birth control counseling and options, lifesaving cervical and breast cancer screenings, annual exams, STD testing and treatment, Well Women Exams, pregnancy testing, HIV testing, and referrals to a network of community resources.

In just the last 10 years, these four health centers have provided services to 26,951 patients.

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