While defending the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare during a CNN town hall on Wednesday night, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was confronted by a woman in the audience who pressed him about the bill’s defunding of Planned Parenthood.
“Planned Parenthood provides an array of vital health services for women,” Katie Needle, a New York State resident, told Price. “I’m a Planned Parenthood patient, and I would be absolutely devastated if Planned Parenthood were defunded.”
“You earlier brought up Medicaid specifically, and complained about how one of the biggest problems under Obamacare was that only a third of doctors were accepting Medicaid,” Needle continued. “This plan chooses to cut a provider [Planned Parenthood] that sees over a million Medicaid patients every year. So if that is your big problem with Obamacare, then how does that make any sense?”
“How do you expect the millions of low-income women nationwide who depend on Planned Parenthood for these vital human services — basic needs — to access these things if Planned Parenthood is defunded?” she asked.
“This is an important question,” Price responded. “Because the fact of the matter is that the American people have for decades said that they didn’t want their tax dollars — their federal tax dollars — to be used for the provision of abortion services.”
According to Planned Parenthood, just 3 percent its health care services are abortion services. Under law, federal dollars cannot be used to fund abortion services.
Price argued that the bill “increases money for women’s health services” by providing funding for community health centers to provide the non-abortion services — such as breast exams, contraception and cancer screenings — that Planned Parenthood already provides.
But as Needle pointed out, an effort to do just that in Texas appears to have failed. This week, the Associated Press reported that an anti-abortion group that received $1.6 million from the Longhorn State last year to help clinics promote and update its services has “done little of the outreach it promised.”
“Cutting access to Planned Parenthood means women have less access to health care,” she said. “More women’s health centers — they didn’t just magically appear because Planned Parenthood was defunded. That just doesn’t happen.”
Price said that the bill would provide resources to expedite alternatives at the state and county levels.
“What will happen is that community health centers will spring up to provide services for individuals,” he said. “In the meantime, there are other avenues to be able to get services for women. There are community health centers. There are county health centers and the like.”
CNN’s Dana Bash noted that in 105 counties across the country, Planned Parenthood clinics are the only ones offering a full range of contraceptive methods to women. Price said he was not aware of that statistic.
“I haven’t seen that,” he said. “And so I’d be interested in looking at that. If that is indeed the case, then we would be happy to take a look at it and see how to best provide those services.”
Bash also pressed Price about his contention that Americans don’t want their federal tax dollars funding abortion services, when Planned Parenthood isn’t allowed to use federal funding for abortions.
“As you know, and all these good economists in the audience know, that money is fungible,” Price said. “And so if you’re spending money in one place and you move money to another place, then in fact you are indeed using that money. And again, the majority of the American people feel strongly about this.”
Read more from Yahoo News:
- ‘Microwaves that turn into cameras’: Kellyanne Conway defends Trump claim
- Trump slams Snoop for shooting clown likeness in music video
- A prescription for ‘Trump-induced anxiety disorder,’ straight from Hollywood
- ‘She’s complicit’: Ivanka Trump torched by ScarJo on SNL
- At Bernie Sanders’ town hall, America’s opioid crisis goes on dark display