The Pennsylvania Senate is expected to act soon on a bill which would deprive women of receiving necessary services at the facility of their choosing.
Senate Bill 300 (SB 300) — sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger (R-30th District) — seeks to require the state's Department of Human Services to prioritize funding for family planning services by placing what are considered "traditional" facility-providers such as private hospitals at the top of the funding list. At the same time, it would potentially deprive the state's qualified family planning providers and clinics of much-needed funding.
Of particular concern is that:
- Gender discrimination may occur and that women will once again face the challenge of losing critical mandated benefits such as maternity coverage, contraception coverage, and coverage of gynecological screening exams (including cancer screening such as PAP tests and mammograms).
- Women may experience decreased access to OB/GYN care, all because they have chosen to seek care in a facility that has been prioritized lower for allocation of public funds for family planning purposes. These clinics provide valuable services to many women across this commonwealth, and SB 300 could cause these clinics to either shut down or limit the services they provide because of the decrease in funding.
Funding is always a challenge. However, decreasing the allocation to these clinics and providing more funding to traditional hospitals and other primary care centers is not an adequate solution. Many of those traditional hospitals and facilities will not have the capacity or enough qualified staff to take on increased patients, which means many patients may go without much-needed services.
When it comes to the provision of women's health care services, as with other health care services, the concern should be that these services are being provided by a qualified facility or center of the patient's choosing, rather than a funding formula that seeks to reduce funding for specific types of centers. Women should be able to receive necessary care at a qualified facility, as opposed to being told what type of facility they must seek out for services.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) works to prevent legislation that interferes with the physician-patient relationship and with the practice of medicine. As a result, PAMED opposes legislative interference with facilities that provide medically-accepted standard of care reproductive services for women, including contraception, screening for and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, screening for female cancers, and education to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
Physicians and other health care professionals who have concerns about this bill are encouraged to contact your Senator and encourage them to oppose SB 300. Visit PAMED's Find-a-Legislator page to find and contact your Senator.