Esty tours Torrington clinic- Planned Parenthood calls bill ‘devastating’
TORRINGTON – Rep. Elizabeth H. Esty, D-5th District, toured the city’s Planned Parenthood clinic Monday and met with some of its leaders to discuss the impacts of health care proposals now being considered in Congress.
Provisions in both the House and Senate versions of the health care bill that would replace the Affordable Care Act call for a reduction in Medicaid funding and a one-year halt to payments to Planned Parenthood. Public funding of the organization has long been a subject of debate because the organization provides abortions among its women’s health services.
Other than a simple blue logo with the agency’s name, the medical waiting room where Esty met with the nonprofit’s Torrington Center Manager, Tammy Hreha, and its Southern New England vice president of public policy and advocacy, Susan Lloyd Yolen, was tidy, quiet and not particularly memorable. There was little to suggest it was at the center of a national controversy.
Planned Parenthood representatives said the Medicaid cuts would be “devastating” for the people who depend on the program for health insurance.
Yolen said half of the 30,000 women served by Planned Parenthood’s 17 Connecticut clinics are on Medicaid and would be prohibited from using it to pay for services there. She said that would disproportionately affect poorer women and transgendered individuals who use the service.
Esty praised what she described as Planned Parenthood’s unique dedication to women’s health care. She credited the organization with “providing a place where women could go for women’s health care, where people could feel cared for and respected. Nobody’s judging you, everyone is here to help you. Everybody who works here made that choice, in that they believe in Planned Parenthood’s mission.”
Hreha said inclusivity is essential to Planned Parenthood’s mission, and said that women can feel comfortable coming to the clinic “whether you’re a mother who’s not ready to have another child, or you’re HIV positive, or you’ve been raped.” She added that Planned Parenthood is pushing forward in the new field of transgendered health.
Esty criticized the Republican plans as limiting women’s health care options now that the rate of unintended pregnancies has dropped to a historic low. “We shouldn’t be losing these gains that have made people’s lives better,” she said.
Esty said setting health care policy demands bipartisanship. She discussed changes that could lower the cost of Medicaid, such as permitting the government to negotiate drug prices.
The current law does not permit such negotiation, and drug prices increasingly contribute to the high cost of health care.
She said she believes debate about Planned Parenthood has unfairly centered around the clinic’s association with abortion, even though abortions constitute only 3 percent of its services and the law already prohibits the use of federal funds for the procedure.
“It’s a tiny fraction, when the vast majority of services are preventive and for women’s overall health,” Esty said.