Family planning

Family planning contracts going back to the Executive Council

Twice-rejected family planning contracts with Northern New England’s Planned Parenthood and two other low-income reproductive health care providers return to the Executive Board on Wednesday. It was unclear on Monday whether that suggests some advisers are reconsidering their votes on contracts that failed both times in 4-1 votes.

In the past, Gov. Chris Sununu, who sets the agenda, has brought back contracts when he got enough votes to push them through, as he did with a $22.5 million federal contract. dollars for the state’s work on vaccines.

After rejecting this contract, 4-1, in October, Republican advisers Joe Kenney, Janet Stevens and David Wheeler reverse course and joined Democratic adviser Cinde Warmington in adopting it a month later.

Sununu said he supports family planning contracts for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Lovering Health Center and Equality Health Center, which together provide 70% of the state’s reproductive health care to low-income Granite Staters.

The four Republican members of the council rejected the contracts in September and even last month.

Sununu’s office did not return a request for comment.

The difference this time may be that Health and Human Services have completed their report identifying issues they flagged in newly required audits as well as providers’ plans to address them.

Although the report was not complete until the last meeting, Meredith Telus, director of planning and program integrity at the Department of Health and Human Services, told advisers that the issues reported were administrative in nature. not a concern that providers were misusing public funding. Managers at all three agencies said they were asked to do things like computerize their payroll records and spell rather than abbreviate references in their manuals.

Stevens and Kenney, however, raised questions about the audit report, saying they wished they had it before voting. Kenney tried unsuccessfully to postpone a vote on the contracts until the report was ready. In an email to the Bulletin following the most recent vote, Stevens said she believed the contracts had been filed.

Stevens and Kenney could not be reached on Monday.

Wheeler and Councilman Ted Gatsas seem the least likely to change their votes. They consistently cited objections unrelated to the audits: the availability of the morning-after contraceptive pill for adolescents without parental consent and the belief that public funding is used for abortion care. (The Department of Health and Human Services and Attorney General John Formella said state audits showed this to be false.)

The three providers are the only organizations submitting bids to provide reproductive health care to low-income residents, according to Health and Human Services.

The loss of contracts, which they have held for years, will mean fewer services, longer wait times and fewer people eligible for reduced-cost care.

“Multiple irresponsible Executive Council votes in 2021 caused six months of lost funding for reproductive health centers, dismantled New Hampshire’s state family planning program, and compromised access to care for 12,000 granite staters. during a pandemic,” said Liz Canada, public advocacy manager. business at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “It’s time for Councilors Kenney, Stevens, Gatsas and Wheeler to listen to their constituents and state public health officials and restore vital family planning funding for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Equality Health Center and Lovering Health Center.”

The New Hampshire Bulletin, the Granite State’s newest independent nonprofit news organization, provides accountability reporting on New Hampshire politics and politics. The New Hampshire Bulletin is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers.