The Komen Foundation’s decision to cease providing grants to Planned Parenthood will soon take its toll on local communities unless the lost funding is made up. Nowhere is that more true than in Waco, Texas.
For almost 15 years, the Planned Parenthood of Waco, Texas has relied on grants from the local Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate to provide cancer-related care to uninsured women. But Waco is a unique case; the funding is more than just a boost — it’s actually the sole reason thousands of women receive cancer screenings and care.
In 1998, the first year the Komen Foundation began awarding grants, Planned Parenthood of Waco applied for one to provide mammograms to uninsured women. With the grant, women could pick up a voucher from Planned Parenthood, take it to the mammography center, and then have a screening paid for by Planned Parenthood. The Komen Foundation later suggested that they apply for a second grant, this time for diagnostics, so that women with problematic screenings could get more testing. In 2007, the state of Texas — the same state which dramatically slashed family funding and Planned Parenthood funding this year — made them a Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Provider (BCCS).
As part of the national BCCS program, Planned Parenthood became the only clinic in a 12-county area that could enroll poor, uninsured women in the Medicaid for Breast and Cervical Cancer program and get life-saving treatment. To remain a BCCS provider, the clinic has to put up matching funds — $1 for every $3 of federal money — and the Komen money provided that needed match. They must have an outside funding source to match the BCCS program.
“What was just our little Komen program — which is great and serves a lot of people — by us becoming a BCCS provider it leverages that Komen money so that we have more funds to provide more services to more women,” Felicia Goodman, Director of Community Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Waco told TPM. Basically, the Komen money is used twice, to provide vouchers for preventative care and to prop up the BCCS program. The Komen money essentially allows Planned Parenthood to work as a funding and referral service for women; the money is not going to abortions as anti-choice activists suggest.
The Komen decision comes at a bad time for Planned Parenthood in Texas. In 2011, the Texas legislature reduced the state’s family planning spending by two-thirds and purposefully reallocated those funds away from Planned Parenthood clinics. As a result, the Waco Planned Parenthood had to cut its budget in half.
“We’re already going to our donors saying, ‘okay, family planning funding was cut, please help us make up the difference, or at least help us see half the patients we saw last year,’” says Goodman. “And then this. It’s all pretty devastating.”
The situation for the Waco Planned Parenthood is not immediately dire because they signed a new contract with Komen just before Tuesday’s announcement. As long as Komen honors that contract, they will have until March of 2013 to replace about $50,000 per year from the Komen Foundation. Goodman stresses how wonderful the local Komen affiliate has been and assumes they probably maneuvered somewhat to keep them funded as long as they did.
Nationally, backlash against the Komen Foundation’s decision has been swift. In Connecticut, the local Komen affiliates promised to continue to fund their local Planned Parenthood screenings despite the directive from headquarters; in Denver, the national organization granted its Denver affiliate a waver to continue funding Planned Parenthood in the region. In the 24-hours since the decision was announced, Planned Parenthood raised $650,000 — almost enough to make up for one year of lost funding. The fundraising spike includes a $250,000 gift towards a Breast Health Emergency Fund to ensure funding to affiliates like Waco Planned Parenthood that will lose their Komen grants.
It’s still unclear the Komen Foundation’s decision will pan out in Texas and across the country, but Waco is in the running to be the hardest hit by the new policy.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.