The Pennsylvania Senate Finance Committee voted 7-5 in favor of Senate Bill 300 which will prioritize the funding of women’s health services and family planning. In effect, the bill would direct the limited federal and state public funding first to the most efficient and comprehensive health care providers.
Public entities that provide a wide array of primary care services will receive the highest priority for receiving such funds. Next in line would be non-public hospitals and federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and non-public health providers that have their main purpose as the provision of primary health care. The bill also prohibits the Department of Human Services from entering into a contract with or making a grant to “any entity that performs abortions that are not federally qualified abortions or maintains or operates a facility where such abortions are performed, except as required by Federal law.”
In describing the bill before the committee, the prime sponsor Senator John Eichelberger (R-Blair County) offered a list of about a dozen services provided by federally qualified health centers including diabetes and heart disease screening, even flu shots, which is why he feels they should have priority. Other providers that are more focused on family planning such as Planned Parenthood only provide three. Eichelberger said Planned Parenthood, for example, can test for a sexually transmitted disease (STD) but the patient must go somewhere else for treatment. “There are other resources in communities (that can offer more complete care),” he contended, speaking specifically to community health centers.