by Bruce Walker
A request for $50 million in Michigan taxpayer funding of family planning services is as notable for what it does not say as what it does.
Abortion services were not included by name, and an emailed request for clarification from The Center Square to those making the announcement – Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel – was unsuccessful.
A release says the expansion of family planning services includes contraception, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, and cancer screenings. The plan must be approved by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The release said the additional money for the state’s Plan First! program would provide free services for 25,000 Michigan residents, which it noted could save them up to $2,000 annually.
“All women and families should have the resources they need to decide when and if they want to start a family,” the governor said in a statement. “Expanding access to family planning coverage through Plan First! to 25,000 Michiganders would protect bodily autonomy and strengthen reproductive freedom and save people up to $2,000 a year. The services would be wide-ranging, from birth control and cancer screenings to STI screenings and diagnostic services.”
“As some extreme politicians try to take away access to reproductive health care, I will keep working to protect and expand it,” Whitmer said in announcing the request for funding. “These services are critical to help people live and plan their lives, and I will keep fighting like hell to ensure Michiganders have reproductive freedom and quality, affordable health care.”
Under the Health Department and governor’s plan, Michigan’s current Family Planning Program and Healthy Michigan Plan – the state’s expanded Medicaid program – would be expanded to provide free or low-cost services to households with two people earning a combined $36,620 annually, or 200% of the federal poverty level.
“Family planning contributes to improved health outcomes for infants, children, women, and families,” Hertel said in a statement. “For many women, it is their entry point into the health care system. Plan First! is another important step in our efforts to increase access to health care coverage.”
Plan First! offers:
• Initial and annual physical exams relating to reproductive health and family planning options, including patient education and counseling.
• Breast and cervical cancer screenings.
• Sexually transmitted infections and HIV screening and testing.
• Sterilization services.
• Family-planning-related laboratory services.
• Medical, diagnostic and treatment services that are determined to be necessary during a family planning visit, such as treatment for sexually transmitted infections or diseases or cervical cancer vaccinations.
If approved, the expanded plan would take effect in the spring.
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.
Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by Gretchen Whitmer.