- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republicans in the Iowa House said Tuesday that they want to change the funding for a family planning program to block abortion providers from participating.

The Republican-majority House gave committee-level approval to a health and human services budget that would stop accepting federal matching dollars for a program that offers family planning coverage to low-income people. Instead, the House would set up a new program using federal grant dollars the state has more discretion over.

Under the House plan, care could not be provided by “any entity that performs abortions or that maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed,” though there would be exemptions to treat life-threatening conditions or miscarriages.

Rep. Linda Miller, R-Bettendorf, says members “felt very strongly about this,” because they don’t want public dollars going to abortion providers. House Republicans stressed that eligibility rules and coverage provided would not change.

But Sen. Amanda Ragan, D-Mason City, said the Democratic-led Senate will seek to keep the current system, saying she didn’t “see an advantage in changing the rules.”

The House and Senate must resolve their differences during budget negotiations.

The program provides family planning coverage to nearly 17,000 income-eligible people between the ages of 12 and 54. For the current fiscal year, the projected spending is about $3.4 million in federal money and $532,000 in state dollars.

Any family planning clinic enrolled with Medicaid can provide the services. That includes Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which provides abortion services at some locations.

Erin Davison-Rippey, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said 13 clinics in the state accept Medicaid for family planning services. She said that under the proposed changes, “Iowans will have a harder time finding a provider who is eligible to participate.”


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