Budget cuts to Planned Parenthood could affect student patients
Recently, the 340B Drug Discount Program has taken center stage in the health care debate. 340B program requires drug companies to sell their products at low prices to hospitals and healthcare centers like Planned Parenthood that serve large numbers of low income patients. If 340B gets cut, $6 billion in healthcare aid would disappear.
Eliminating the 340B program would limit the services Planned Parenthood would be able offer, according to Politico. The national healthcare center, which serves 4,665,000 people a year across the US, would have to cut back care. This would affect people who rely on low cost or free services most of all.
The cuts were proposed by the Trump administration in November as a part of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. Joe Grogan, director of health programs at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said the 340B program is “messed up” and backs the Trump administration for wanting to take it on, according to USA Today.
“In California we serve about 800,000 Californians (annually). Budget cuts to California would have a hugely negative impact,” said Nichole Ramirez, vice president of marketing communications for Planned Parenthood in Orange and San Bernardino County. “We had over 200,000 visits this past year.”
According to Planned Parenthood, 79% of women that use Planned Parenthood are below the federal poverty line and rely on the family planning and other basic healthcare needs services that Planned Parenthood offers.
“All of our fees are on what we call a sliding scale, it all depends on a person’s situation. No one gets turned away due to personal circumstances or if they cannot afford to pay,” Ramirez said.
Planned Parenthood currently offers low cost and some free services to patients, according to their website. Some services include birth control, STD testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings, pregnancy testing, and men and women’s health services, and LGBT services, .
Some LGBT services include providing hormone therapy for transgender patients, service referrals, and support groups. Men’s health services include testicular cancer testing, vasectomies, and erectile dysfunction treatment. Women’s health services include UTI testing and treatment, colposcopies, and infertility treatments.
Elise Sprinkel, a junior creative writing major, and Sydney Burke relies on Planned Parenthood to get her birth control.
“If I’m unable to get my birth control that will cause a lot of problems for me. I use my birth control for obviously safe sex reasons, but also for my skin. And to help keep my cramps under control,” said Sprinkel, “I don’t have the budget to (pay for) birth control.”
Birth control pills are $15 per month at the Chapman Health Center, a low price compared to purchasing birth control through another provider without insurance.
Health care centers like Planned Parenthood that offered abortions had their funding protected by Obamacare until 2017 when President Donald Trump signed legislation reversing the protections. States can now block Title X funding to centers that offer abortions. Title X is a federal grant program that provides money for family planning and other related preventive healthcare services.
“One in five women have visited a Planned Parenthood in their lifetime. half of American women will have an unplanned pregnancy and one in three will have an abortion by the time they are 45,” Ramirez said.
For some young college students, being able to afford the cost of health care can become a challenge. According to Planned Parenthood does want students to have to choose between paying for health care and school expenses.
“I go planned parenthood twice a year to get STD testing,” Said Ellie Kantola, a senior visual arts major. “I use [Planned Parenthood] because it’s free for me. If they could no longer offer me free services I probably wouldn’t be able to pay for testing.”
The Chapman Health Center does offer sexual health resources at low rates, but isn’t free like Planned Parenthood.
Student health insurance through the university was $728 per semester for the 2017-2018 school year. Most students stay on their family’s insurance plan and pay a $122 health center fee for eligibility to use campus health resources, a fee which is required for undergraduates.
Sexual health is one of the center’s foci because it serves a college campus.
“The most common service we see is STI testing, gonorrhea and chlamydia are the most popular tests that are requested. Birth control and UTI testing would be the most common among female students,” said Jacqueline Deats, the director of the Student Health Center.
Every undergraduate can see a provider and be screened free of charge, Deats said. Common prescriptions like antibiotics typically run around $10.
Abortions are not offered at the student health center.
“I have never talked to any student in need of a abortion,” she said. “We would refer [students] to appropriate places if they were in need of an abortion.”
Though campus resources are a relatively affordable option, Sprinkel said she prefers going to Planned Parenthood over the Chapman’s health center after being misdiagnosed.
“I have had a bad experience with the Chapman health center misdiagnosing an infection and actually causing more pain for myself,” Sprinkel said. “The second is that I actually believe that the student health center is less concerned with the individual (than Planned Parenthood) and often throws antibiotics at you without really investigating the issue.”
The 340B program cut is still being debated among Congress. Students who use Planned Parenthood, continue to raise their voices against the program’s potential cuts.
“I’m worried I won’t be able to afford the health care I currently get for free. I don’t want it to come down to me choosing on paying for everyday things I need to live like food or health care, which I also need to live,” said Alyssa Houstoun, a sophomore communications major.