To help close Washington's $6 billion budget shortfall, the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has decided to end a program that provides 70 family-planning nurses at 58 community service offices. The shutdown, which will take effect at the end of this month, will save $1.2 million.
The nurses distribute condoms, test for STDs and pregnancy, counsel women about birth control, and refer clients to medical service providers.
Officials with Planned Parenthood of Central Washington point out that the federal government matches the state funds at a nine-to-one ratio, meaning that the $1.2 million in state spending earns it an additional $10.8 million in federal funds. "Over 14 years of wise investments in developing successful family-planning services at community service sites will be lost," Anna Franks, PPCW's president, said in a statement.
MaryAnne Lindeblad, director of the division of health care services for the Health and Recovery Services Administration with DSHS, said clients will still be able to access birth control and pregnancy counseling at community health centers as well as Planned Parenthood clinics. "People may not get the nurse counseling, but we're still going to refer women into these services that are offered elsewhere," she said. "We have a huge budget deficit and we don't have an infinite number of areas to cut from, so we cut where we do the least harm."
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